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Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s cybercrime charges dismissed by Brazil judge

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Prosecutors had claimed Greenwald colluded with phone hackers

BRAZIL-POLITICS-CORRUPTION-INTERCEPT-GREENWALD Photo credit should read EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images

A judge in Brazil has rejected the accusations of hacking leveled at Glenn Greenwald after he reported on the country’s anti-corruption task force, The Associated Press reports. Prosecutors had claimed the journalist was guilty of criminal association after The Intercept Brasil published a series of reports based on private messages involving the country’s justice minister. Greenwald was accused of not just receiving information gained via hacking, but of actively aiding the alleged hackers.

The charges were heavily criticized as an attack on the freedom of the press, and Greenwald’s lawyers claimed that they challenged a previous ruling from the country’s Supreme Court, which had barred investigations into The Intercept Brasil in relation to the alleged hacking. In the end, the judge chose to uphold this ruling, although the six individuals who are alleged to have hacked into officials’ phones will now face charges.

Although Greenwald broadly welcomed the judge’s decision, he warned that it didn’t go far enough to protect press freedoms and called on the country’s Supreme Court to go further. “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. Anything less would leave open the possibility of further erosion of the fundamental freedom of the press against other journalists,” Greenwald said. The Intercept’s editor-in-chief called the ruling “narrow and procedural.”

Indeed, The Intercept notes that the judge had only declined to receive the complaint against Greenwald “for now,” while The New York Times reports that he called Greenwald an “instigator of the conduct of the other defendants and not merely a receiver of illegal content.”

Despite the reservations he expressed about the ruling, Greenwald said that The Intercept will continue to report on the archive of documents it received. The publication’s report claimed that the country’s justice minister, Sérgio Moro, had previously coordinated with prosecutors involved in a corruption investigation in his previous role as a judge. The Associated Press notes that the corruption investigation has been criticized for unfairly targeting left-wing political figures in the country.

Greenwald has previously been under scrutiny by the US government for his work reporting on the Edward Snowden leaks from the National Security Agency.