American journalist Glenn Greenwald, famous for his central role in reporting on the classified documents leaked by American whistleblower and former National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden, has revealed he was bound and held at gunpoint during a robbery at the farm in Brazil where he currently lives.
Greenwald, who in 2014 founded The Intercept – a news website to "challenge official narratives" - opened up about the traumatic incident in a detailed essay over the weekend.
The Pulitzer prize winner felt compelled to share his account of the attack he experienced for the "insights it provided" and to explain why violence of the kind recently suffered by an Oakland family is so "brutalising".
Armed criminals had invaded the family home of a couple and their seven-year-old daughter, tying them up and brutally beating the father.
They also threatened to murder all of them, after eventually stealing all of their possessions. The crime in Oakland was reported by San Francisco television reporter Dion Lim.
𝗟𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀: 𝗚𝗢𝗡𝗘. “𝙏𝙝𝙚 1𝙨𝙩 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙄 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙙𝙖𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙚𝙧.”— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) April 1, 2021
Roseni & her husband say they were tied up by 4 robbers in front of their 7-year old daughter Amy. Their Oakland home was ransacked.
As he urged people to go to an online GoFundMe page created to tell the story of the family and extend help to them, Glenn Greenwald was able to relate to the trauma suffered by the victims of the attack.
'Held at Gunpoint'
Greenwald wrote on 3 April that he had endured a home invasion at the "isolated" home he was renting during the coronavirus pandemic, near Rio de Janeiro, on 5 March.
Just one off-duty police officer, hired to provide security, had been with Greenwald at the time, as his husband and two young children were in the capital.
The 54-year-old investigative journalist described how the 12 dogs on the property had been the first to alert him to the fact that something was wrong.
At 9:30 p.m. Greenwald noticed his dogs were barking more than usual, and ventured outside to investigate. At that point he was apprehended by "three men wearing full black face masks". The intruders descended upon him, "pointing guns". The men then marched him inside the house while his security guard was held face-down on the floor at gunpoint.
The journalist writes that his first thought was that this was a "targeted political attack", since he had been receiving a series of disturbing threats, some of which he had published.
Just to note that everyone with a public platform receives demented, bigoted, deranged, threatening messages: it's not the unique province of any one type of person or faction nor does it make one special. It just goes with the territory. pic.twitter.com/jrLMftKNXA— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 15, 2021
However, since the criminals started demanding money, he writes he felt somewhat relieved.
The journalist added that most valuables had remained at his home, with just a couple hundred dollars, some kitchen appliances, and clothes at the farm.
Angry that there was ostensibly so little to loot, the robbers ended up staying for an hour, attempting "various forms of psychological terror".
"They repeatedly threatened to shoot the police officer in the head, repeatedly kicked him so hard that they cracked several of his ribs, ordered me to open my mouth and stuck a gun in it as they demanded to know where the rest of the money was, smashed my phone and tablet against a wall when they could not figure out how to erase the hard-drive, and just generally tried to create a climate of extreme fear", described Greenwald.
"They would frequently issue demands — such as telling me to get a credit card to use phone apps to transfer money to their account — only to abandon the plan seconds later and frenetically move to some other idea", he wrote.
Both Greenwald and his guard had their arms and legs bound with a cord as the robbers finally made their getaway in his car. According to Greenwald, it appeared to him the thieves were "desperate" and "not professional criminals" because they acted frantically and disorganised.
He added that after the incident the criminals reportedly committed several other armed invasions of stores in the area using the car, registered to Greenwald's husband.
Greenwald added how grateful he was that his family had been away during the horrific incident.
He also revealed that he had been reluctant to write about the encounter but was encouraged to do so by colleagues. Accordingly, he felt that offering a glimpse into his own personal experience might be "beneficial to remind people of the impact of this kind of violent crime".
Glenn Greenwald who played a pivotal part in the efforts of The Guardian US team that broke the Edward Snowden whistleblower story in 2013, made headlines after he resigned abruptly from The Intercept, the news website he co-founded, denouncing the site as no longer carrying out the mission that he had intended.
My Resignation From The Intercept— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 29, 2020
The same trends of repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity plaguing the national press generally have engulfed the media outlet I co-founded, culminating in censorship of my own articles.https://t.co/dZrlYGfEBf
"The Intercept's editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression", he wrote in a resignation post.
Greenwald has since ruffled feathers in Brazil, where he has been living, with The Intercept Brasil publishing articles last year based on alleged leaked cellphone messages that questioned the integrity and the motives of key members of Brazil's justice system.