CNN  — 

Brazilian prosecutors filed charges against American journalist Glenn Greenwald Tuesday, alleging he aided in cybercrimes and “helped, encouraged and oriented” hackers who tapped into the phones and messaging apps of some of the country’s top officials.

The charges come following a series of stories published in 2019 by Greenwald’s news site The Intercept, based on a trove of data that it said “provides unprecedented insight into the operations of the anti-corruption task force that transformed Brazilian politics and gained worldwide attention.”

The stories included excerpts of phone messages from Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who led the task force before joining the government of Jair Bolsonaro in 2019.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Greenwald, a Pulitzer prize winner, was not directly under investigation but said information found on one of the suspected hacker’s computers showed him “giving guidance” and that he was being charged with assisting the group.

Six other people have been indicted in the so-called “Operation Spoofing” and are other investigation for illegal hacking.

Greenwald has only been charged, not indicted, and he will only respond to phone and computer hacking crimes, while the others will face crimes of money laundering, said the Federal Prosecutors.

Last year, a Supreme Court judge issued an injunction preventing Federal Police from investigating Greenwald following the publication of the stories.

Greenwald’s response

Greenwald derided the accusations Tuesday, calling it “an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations” reported by The Intercept.

“Less than two months ago, after examining the same evidence cited today by Brazil’s Public Ministry, the Federal Police stated that not only have I never committed any crimes in my contacts with our source, but also that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist,” Greenwald said in a statement provided to CNN.

Greenwald added, “This new accusation — brought by the same prosecutor who just tried and failed to criminally prosecute the head of the Brazilian Bar Association for criticizing Minister Moro — is an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government.”

Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept and the “author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law,” according to his biography on The Intercept.

On 2014, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for public service on the NSA reporting he led for the Guardian, in addition to several other investigative journalism awards.

He is married to Brazilian congressman David Miranda, a spokesperson for the LGBT community in Brazil.

The world reacts

The Intercept issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the latest charges by the Brazilian government.

It said, “The Bolsonaro government has repeatedly made it clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms. Today’s announcement that a criminal complaint has been filed against Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald is the latest example of journalists facing serious threats in Brazil.

The charges were denounced by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization which advocates on behalf of journalists and which Greenwald sits on the board of.

“Glenn Greenwald is our friend and long-time colleague, and he has bravely fought for journalistic freedom throughout his entire career,” Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement to CNN. “These sham charges are a sickening escalation of the Bolsonaro administration’s authoritarian attacks on press freedom and the rule of law.”

“They cannot be allowed to stand,” Timm added. “We call on the Brazilian government to immediately halt its persecution of Greenwald and respect press freedom — as the Brazilian Supreme Court has already ordered them to do. In the meantime, we dearly hope Glenn is safe and is able to continue doing his job as a journalist.”

“The United States must immediately condemn this outrageous assault on the freedom of the press, and recognize that its attacks on press freedoms at home have consequences for American journalists doing their jobs abroad,” said Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.