By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA (Reuters) – A Brazilian judge indicted six people accused of hacking the phones of prosecutors in the country’s biggest corruption case on Thursday, but held off “for now” on accepting cybercrimes charges against U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald.
The judge, Ricardo Soares Leite, said the Supreme Court had to rule first on an earlier injunction shielding Greenwald from investigation before he could decide on the indictment, which charges Greenwald, editor of news website The Intercept, with allegedly abetting the hacking as it published leaked information.
“I decline, for now, to receive the complaint against Glenn Greenwald, due to the controversy over the extent of the injunction granted by Minister Gilmar Mendes,” the judge wrote.
The damaging leaks showed then-judge Sergio Moro, who is now justice minister, advising prosecutors in the graft case against former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was jailed for corruption but released 18 months later.
Intercept Brasil, edited by Greenwald, published the leaked conversations that pointed to collusion between the judge and the prosecuting team. He was charged last month with criminal association with the group of six people accused of hacking the phones of members of the prosecutors team in the so-called Car Wash investigation.
Greenwald welcomed the judge’s decision not to proceed with the charges, but said it was insufficient to guarantee the rights of a free press.
“This is not enough. We seek a decisive rejection from the Supreme Court of this abusive prosecution on the grounds that it is a clear and grave assault on core press freedoms,” he said in a statement.
Greenwald, a resident of Brazil and fierce critic of far right President Jair Bolsonaro, is best known for his work on the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the American former National Security Agency contractor who leaked secret documents about U.S. telephone and internet surveillance in 2013.
Greenwald’s lawyers argued that he should not have been charged because an injunction by Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes had barred prosecutors from investigating him for information published in the media.
Mendes cited Greenwald’s “constitutional right to the protection of journalistic sources.”
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Ricardo Brito; Editing by Leslie Adler, Rosalba O’Brien and Daniel Wallis)