On June 9, The Intercept began publishing a series of investigative stories that sent shocks through Brazil. The pieces appeared to supply evidence that Sergio Moro, Brazil’s Justice Minister and the former top judge in a major corruption investigation, colluded with federal prosecutors to convict prominent political figures—among them, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been leading 2018 election polls and was rendered ineligible to run. Drawing from private chats leaked to Glenn Greenwald—the Intercept’s founder, who lives in Rio—the reports tarnished Moro, once the face of an anti-corruption platform that helped boost President Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing firebrand, into office. Greenwald now faces threats of jail time, in what has become Brazil’s first big test of the legal freedom to publish leaks.
And there is more to come, Greenwald says. The material feeding the Intercept’s pieces—which focus on a scandal involving Operação Lava Jato (“Operation Car Wash”), the country’s largest-ever probe into bribery and corruption (so-called because it uncovered that a car wash chain was used to launder money)—may be “the largest trove of leaked documents in the history of journalism and media,” he tells CJR. Bigger, according to Greenwald, than the pile provided to him by Edward Snowden, a leak that resulted in breathtaking revelations about the US National Security Agency and won Greenwald a Pulitzer Prize.
Soon after the first Car Wash piece was published, Brazilian federal prosecutors released a statement accusing the Intercept of disseminating “biased content” and taking “advantage of the hacker’s action to misrepresent facts” to serve “the interests of criminals hit by Lava Jato,” which they called a “sordid performance” and “fake news.” On Twitter, Moro took a decisive step further, referring to the Intercept as “the site allied with criminal hackers.” [Continue reading…]