25 January 2020 — Defend Wikileaks
New York Times: “Federal prosecutors in Brazil have brought charges against US journalist Glenn Greenwald for reporting on leaked cellphone messages showing widespread corruption of Brazilian public officials. Greenwald is accused of being part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of several prosecutors and other officials to obtain the messages.”
Glenn Greenwald has released a statement in response:
“This denunciation….is an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported…We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists.”
Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm said,
“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.”
Denis Dora, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 said:
“The charges against the journalist Glenn Greenwald are of immense concern to us, and further evidence of how fragile journalists’ rights are in Brazil. These charges come after President Jair Bolsonaro threatened him with the possibility of jail time, related to his reporting.”
There are striking similarities between Greenwald and Assange cases — both relate to encrypted journalist-source communication and source-protection and threaten to criminalize journalism.
As journalists and rights advocates around the world rallied to support The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in the face of his charging of cybercrime by the government of Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, a number of observers noted the similarity to the U.S. prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and called for both men to receive solidarity from their peers and supporters.
This strategy—trying to paint a journalist as an active participant in a crime, as opposed to just the recipient of leaked material—is clearly a heinous attack on freedom of the press protections, something journalists and anyone in favor of free speech should be up in arms about. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The case against Greenwald happens to be almost a carbon copy of the Justice Department’s argument in the affidavit it filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last year, which contains more than a dozen charges under the Espionage Act. Just like the Brazilian government, US prosecutors try to make the case that Assange didn’t just receive leaked diplomatic cables and other information from former Army staffer Chelsea Manning, but that he actively participated in the hack and leaks, and therefore doesn’t deserve the protection of the First Amendment.
Regardless of what we think of Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, this is an obvious attack on journalism, just as Brazil’s legal broadside against Glenn Greenwald is an obvious attack by Bolsonaro on someone who has become a journalistic thorn in his side. A man who helped win a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on leaked documents involving mass surveillance by US intelligence, files that were leaked to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. And the charges come even after Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled last year that Greenwald could not be prosecuted for the hacking case because of press freedom laws. In a statement, Greenwald called the Brazil charges “an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government,” and said he and the Intercept plan to continue publishing. And so they should.
Jameel Jaffer, Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute
Terrible to see
this. The theory that journalists can be prosecuted for publishing info
that others obtained unlawfully (which I assume is the theory here,
notwithstanding prosecution spin) is of course the basis for the US’s
indictment of Assange, too. https://t.co/lYDP2xb4jc
Jameel Jaffer (@JameelJaffer) January
Clare Daly, MEP
This is a clear
retaliation by the @jairbolsonaro
government for outstanding journalistic work exposing its own crimes.
The charges against @ggreenwald
elide the journalist/source distinction and threaten to criminalize
basic practices of journalism. https://t.co/OTM5kV7qug
Clare Daly MEP (@ClareDalyMEP) January
the reported charges relate to encrypted journalist/source communication
and basic source-protection – very similar to the outrageous and harmful
charges against Julian #Assange.
Where the US leads, Brazil now follows. Both must be opposed. https://t.co/OTM5kV7qug pic.twitter.com/StxigEOVNg
Clare Daly MEP (@ClareDalyMEP) January
looked the other way because they personally disliked Julian Assange
when the DOJ indicted him under a legal theory that merely publishing
clear, public-interest journalism could constitute multiple Espionage
Act violations should reconsider where that road leads. https://t.co/KrQ7rLzKJr
Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January
Max Blumenthal, journalist
w/ basically the same thing the US charged Julian Assange for:
communicating with & providing instructions to “hackers,” thus
“facilitating the commission of a crime.” Seems the US indictment is a
blueprint for Bolsonaro’s assault on a journalist.
Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) January