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Glenn Greenwald slap highlights the depth of division in Brazilian politics

  • 8 Nov 2019

The Intercept journalist was assaulted by right-wing commentator Augusto Nunes during a live-streamed debate on a Brazilian radio station.

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, right, and his husband, Brazilian David Miranda, attend a protest in defense of the Amazon while wildfires burn in that region, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug, 25, 2019. The country’s satellite monitoring agency has recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year — with more than half of those coming this month alone. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado) ( AP )

Journalist and critic of Brazil’s far-right President Jose Bolsonaro was assaulted by a right-wing columnist during a radio debate.

The incident, caught on a live-stream, happened during an intense argument on Brazil’s Jovem Pan radio station.

Right-wing columnist Augusto Nunes has long had an acrimonious relationship with Greenwald, often taking digs at his family and partner, even as going as far as calling on authorities to remove custody of his children from the Intercept journalist.

“Who’s going to take care of the kids?” Nunes jibed at the American journalist, who also regularly appears on Western outlets criticising establishment politics and speaking in defence of civil liberties.

Greenwald called Nunes a “coward” for his conduct and the latter responded by slapping him on his face. After a brief tussle, the pair were pulled apart by staff at the station before Greenwald tried to swing a punch at Nunes, which was blocked by the others.

In a tweet in Portuguese after the scuffle, Greenwald condemned Nunes and the Bolsonaro supporters who had backed him.

“Violence in political debate is a fascist mindset and very dangerous for democracy,” Greenwald wrote.

The Intercept journalist was referring to comments by Brazilian congressman and son of President Bolsonaro, Carlos Bolsonaro, who wrote that he “stood in solidarity” with Nunes.

Greenwald and his partner congressman David Miranda live a largely insulated life with their children at their home in Rio de Janeiro due to threats by Brazil’s far-right. He drew the enmity of Bolsonaro’s circle after publishing a series of leaked texts revealing the political bias of judge Sergio Moro in the case that resulted in the trial and imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The American has since been a thorn in Bolsonaro’s side since the start of his presidency in January 2019 and was even called up for an intense grilling in front of a congressional committee.

During his testimony, one congresswoman, an ally of Bolsonaro named Katia Sastre, shouted out: “Who should be judged, convicted and in prison is the journalist!”

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