Brazil top court prevents investigation into US journalist

Brazil's top court says that officials can't investigate U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald for his work or protecting confidential sources _ a ruling that's being praised by press rights groups

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's top court says officials cannot investigate U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald for his work or for protecting confidential sources — a ruling praised Friday by press rights groups.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the ruling by Justice Gilmar Mendes "reinforces the principle of confidentiality of sources, which is paramount to the protection of a free press."

But the committee added that it remained "concerned about the deteriorating conditions for the independent press in the country."

Greenwald is the co-founder of The Intercept Brasil, a news website that has published a series of reports based on leaked chats raising questions about whether Brazil's justice minister, Sergio Moro, improperly consulted with prosecutors when he was a judge.

According to the reports, Moro, whose contribution to the anti-graft probe known as "Car Wash" has made him a hero for many Brazilians, allegedly orientated prosecutors in a case that led to the jailing of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

If Moro and "Car Wash" prosecutors teamed up, it could lead to the annulment of sentences.

Moro said he could not confirm the truthfulness of the leaked messages, to which he no longer has access. Both he and prosecutors deny any wrongdoing.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sharply criticized Greenwald for the articles and suggested he should be jailed.

Justice Mendes said Thursday that "the constitutional secrecy" around journalistic sources prevented the Brazilian state from using "coercive measures" against Greenwald.

A statement from the Supreme Federal Court said press freedom was a "pillar" of democracy protected not only by the Brazilian constitution but also international human rights treaties to which Brazil is a signatory.