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Demonstrators protest in front of the Justice Ministry in Brasilia calling for the release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the arrest of Brazil's justice minister on June 10, 2019. The staff of 'The Intercept Brasil' received threats after publishing a report June 9 about the "Operation Car Wash" corruption investigation of Lula and other politicians. (AFP/Evaristo Sa)

Glenn Greenwald, Intercept Brasil staff threatened after publishing corruption investigation

June 18, 2019 6:52 PM ET

São Paulo, June 18, 2019--The founder, editor, and other members of the The Intercept Brasil staff said they have received threats on email and social media following their publication of politically sensitive stories this month.

Beginning on June 9, The Intercept Brasil, an independent investigative news website, published a series of stories based on documents, recordings, and private WhatsApp messages leaked anonymously to the news outlet, which raised ethical and legal questions about the conduct of Brazil's justice minister and the chief prosecutor in "Operation Car Wash," the investigation into political corruption that has been ongoing since 2014.

In the days since the stories were published, the outlet's founder, Glenn Greenwald, and his husband, David Miranda, a Congressman with the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party, have received threats of death and violence which "contained substantial personal and private information about us," Greenwald told CPJ via email.

The Intercept Brasil Executive Editor Leandro Demori and other members of the outlet's editorial team received similar threats, Demori told CPJ.

"The Operation Car Wash investigation is one of the most important stories in Brazil in years, yet it has become a dangerous beat in the country's increasingly polarized environment," said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in Mexico City. "Glenn Greenwald and the entire Intercept Brasil team should be able to report on matters of public interest without intimidation and harassment."

Greenwald said the threats he received, mostly via email, "were very graphic, detailed, and thought-out." The threats mentioned the couple's children and dogs, Greenwald told CPJ.

"We are always careful with our security but have had to substantially increase the level of security that we and our family has in light of the journalism I've been doing and the seriousness of the threats we are receiving," Greenwald said.

Demori, who was also one of the reporters on the Operation Car Wash investigation, told CPJ via phone that he has received dozens of threats via email and social media following the investigation's publication, and that he doesn't know who is making the threats, although the outlet's lawyers are studying them to determine their seriousness.

"We get physical threats, such as people writing 'I am going to cut your stomach open with a knife' or 'The hunt is on' but you never know if it is real or just to frighten you," Demori said. "We are monitoring these profiles and trying to identify patterns. We have taken more protective measures, including physical ones. It is controllable right now, but we are worried."

The lawyers have not taken the threats to police, Demori said.

Andrew Fishman, The Intercept Brasil's managing editor, told CPJ that the outlet's website has been targeted by cyberattacks since publishing the exposé.

"Someone is clearly attempting to overwhelm our servers," Fishman said, adding that the website was prepared for such threats and has remained online throughout the attacks.

The Intercept Brasil is a sister news outlet to The Intercept, an investigative news outlet based in New York, where Greenwald is an editor.

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