Brazil prosecutors charge Greenwald with cybercrimes

Brasília (AFP) - Prosecutors in Brazil charged US journalist Glenn Greenwald on Tuesday with cybercrimes after his investigative website published leaked messages that embarrassed top officials and threatened to undermine a massive corruption probe.

Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, was part of a "criminal organization," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The American allegedly "helped, motivated and guided" a group of hackers as they accessed the cell phones of Justice Minister Sergio Moro and prosecutors involved in the so-called Car Wash probe.

Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro with his Brazilian husband and two adopted children, has been charged along with six others, the statement said.

Greenwald took to Twitter to denounce the charges as "an attack on press freedom."

"We won't be intimidated by the state apparatus or the Bolsonaro government," he said.

The journalist had not been the target of the federal police investigation into the phone hacking scandal. However, evidence incriminating him emerged during their inquiries, prosecutors said.

An intercepted conversation between Greenwald and the hackers showed he went beyond receiving and publishing the hacked messages, they asserted.

They also alleged Greenwald urged the group to delete chats already sent to him in order to hide any link between them and the "illegal material."

Walter Delgatti Neto, one of the hackers, has admitted sharing thousands of encrypted messages between Moro, a former judge, and Car Wash investigators.

The Intercept began publishing them in 2019.

The chats showed Moro conspired to keep leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva out of the 2018 presidential election that President Jair Bolsonaro ultimately won.

Moro, who was a judge before joining Bolsonaro's cabinet, has denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign over the scandal.

He said criminal hackers had aimed to overturn convictions resulting from the probe that has claimed the scalps of scores of high-profile figures, including Lula, since it began in 2014.

Bolsonaro has previously branded Greenwald a "militant" and suggested he could do jail time.

Greenwald, who was part of the team that first interviewed fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, told AFP in June he had received "grotesque" threats also targeting his family since his team began publishing the messages.