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Despite Death Threats, Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out About Exposing Large Corruption Scandal in Brazil

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And I think that's the most important thing to realize, is it's not just Lula's case; it's the entire operation of Lava Jato, of Car Wash, that put so many people, dozens of people, in jail, was fundamentally corrupted, because the whole time, in secret, the judge who was presiding over the case, who is now the most powerful person in Brazil, even more powerful than the president, was engaged in corruption so shocking and severe that even the right-wing magazine that had been his biggest supporter has turned on him and is now in partnership with The Intercept Brasil to do a series of exposes' on their cover, uncovering and unmasking this person who was celebrated not just in Brazil, but around the world, as the paragon of ethics, but who in fact was deeply corrupt.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Glenn, last week, Se'rgio Moro testified for seven hours before Brazil's Congress and defended his actions and tried to rebut your expose'. Could you talk about what happened? Because the Congress nearly -- some members of Congress nearly came to blows at one point?

GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, it's been this kind of cat-and-mouse game. Se'rgio Moro first went to the Senate. I then went to the Congress and testified for six-and-a-half hours. He then went to the Congress, that same committee, and testified for seven hours. And I'm now going to the Senate committee on Thursday, where I'll likely testify for many hours in the wake of his testimony.

And while he was there, one of the -- that day, news had broken that the Federal Police, which is under the command of Se'rgio Moro as justice minister, very similar to how the FBI is under the command of the attorney general, had initiated -- has initiated an investigation into my finances. There's a division of the Brazilian government called COAF, which is designed to detect and monitor the movements of money of politicians and their families to see if there's bribery going on or the like. And since my husband is a member of Congress, I fall under the purview of that agency. And the Federal Police, commanded by Se'rgio Moro, has asked for all the reports of my financial activities -- coincidentally, after living 15 years in Brazil, suddenly as I'm doing this reporting.

And so, that hearing that he was at before Congress is very tense for a lot of reasons. The Veja article had just come out. But also, people were indignant that he's so blatantly abusing the police power to retaliate against me for the crime, in his mind, of reporting on his corruption. And after seven hours of testimony -- he was scheduled to go another two or three hours -- a member of the opposition declared him to be a thief judge, a judge who's a thief. And the members of Bolsonaro's party, being the authoritarians and fascists that they are, tried physically attacking that member of Congress, and they came very close to a physical confrontation. And the judge, or the minister, Moro, had to be rushed out in order to protect his own security. That's how intense the outburst was. And it kind of gives you a sense for what the climate here in Brazil is as a result of the reporting that we're doing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Glenn, the potential impact on Lula still being in prison, as a result of the continued expose's about the railroading that he went through as a result of Moro's activities?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, obviously, the imprisonment of Lula was incredibly controversial, both because he was leading the presidential polls by 20 to 25 points, 15 points, at the time that he was convicted by Judge Moro and rendered ineligible, when an appellate court, with strange speed, affirmed that conviction, which is what led to Bolsonaro's victory in the first place.

So, the question now becomes -- there's pending cases that Lula has brought, alleging that his process is unjust. Obviously, the Supreme Court is taking a close look at the reporting that we're doing, and, in fact, last week, issued a decision, 3 to 2, denying Lula's release, or petition to be released from prison, but explicitly saying that they intend to revisit this, pending further revelations by The Intercept. So, obviously, the reporting that we're doing about the corruption, intrinsic, endemic to this process as a result of Se'rgio Moro's misconduct, is putting in doubt all of the verdicts that he issued.

I mean, imagine in the United States if a judge, even in a traffic court case, got caught secretly collaborating with prosecutors and encouraging them and instructing them about how to prosecute the case. Of course it would be unimaginable that that judge would continue in office or their verdicts would be upheld. That's the same situation that Brazil now faces. The problem is, is it's causing a political earthquake, because the cases where Judge Moro was corrupt had such profound consequences for Brazil and for -- even for politics internationally, that to now have to confront the reality that it was all the byproduct of a corrupt process is really, really cataclysmic.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Glenn, the death threats that you are receiving now? Can you describe the threat you're under?

GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, you know, I think one of the things that people outside Brazil don't realize is that Jair Bolsonaro and his far-right movement is not quite like, say, the right-wing movement that brought Trump into office or that has ushered in this new extremist right in Western Europe, which tends to focus more on fear-mongering and demonization over Muslims and immigrants. A big part of Jair Bolsonaro's movement has been demonizing and stigmatizing LGBTs, claiming that we are pedophiles who want to convert people's children, really stimulating huge, intense levels of hatred. The only LGBT member of Congress prior to 2018 fled the country under really, really serious and specific death threats. My husband then took his place. Ironically, he was next in line in the election and is also, of course, openly gay.

And the threats we've been getting are not the kind of death threats that you get when you're a public official every day -- people just write you a quick note on the internet, saying, "I hope you die," or "You deserve to be killed." They're death threats that include our very personal data, our Social Security-equivalent number, sometimes our address -- information that only people in official positions could acquire. They're very graphic and directed at our children, at our family and at us personally. They're the kind of threats that, obviously, a lot of thought goes into and a lot of resources are behind.

And that's why we take them very seriously and have been turning them over to the Federal Police. Unfortunately, that Federal Police is commanded by Se'rgio Moro, who, as our reporting demonstrates, is willing to cross every line and break every law in order to achieve whatever ends he deems just. And so, our confidence in their ability or their willingness to investigate those threats is not very high.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Glenn, we wish you all safety and security. Do you think this price is worth it, the work that you're doing?

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when you go into journalism, this is the kind of thing you do. Journalists all over the war are covering wars; they're killed covering wars. There are journalists who work without the visibility that I have, uncovering corruption by police forces in small towns, and are threatened or even killed. This is the kind of risk that you take on if you want to be not just a journalist, but the kind of journalist that confronts power. So, of course, the risks aren't fun, but at the same time it's very gratifying to feel like you're using the guarantee of a free press for what it's for, which is shining a light on the corrupt acts carried out in the dark by the society's most powerful actors.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we want to thank you for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept, recently published "Secret Brazil Archive," a three-part expose' revealing the judge overseeing the case that put Lula in prison likely aided federal prosecutors in their corruption cases against him and other high-profile figures. Please be safe.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we look at Iran, in 30 seconds.

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