Glenn Greenwald has revealed how he was bound and held at gunpoint for an hour during a robbery at the farm in Brazil where he is currently living.
The journalist, part of a team that won a Pulitzer for reports about government surveillance programs based on leaks by Edward Snowden, endured the terrifying home invasion near Rio de Janeiro, early last month.
Greenwald, 54, described the harrowing attack in which he had a gun forced into his mouth, in a detailed essay over the weekend.
The writer told how he had been at the ‘isolated’ farm on his own with just an off-duty cop hired to provide security, and 12 dogs on the property at the time of the March 5th home invasion.
Glenn Greenwald, 54, was the victim of a violent robbery at his farm near Rio last month
His family, his husband and two young children were in Rio at the time.
The first indication that something was amiss came at 9:30pm when Greenwald noticed his dogs were barking far more than usual.
No sooner had he gone outside to investigate, he was apprehended.
‘Three men wearing full black face masks descended on me, all pointing guns at me,’ he wrote.’
The men marshaled him into the house while two other men held his security guard face-down on the floor at gunpoint.
The home invasion occurred at the remote farm he is renting with his husband and two children
Greenwald noted in February that is often the subject of abusive and threatening email messages
The thieves wanted money and were irritated to find there was very little apart from a few hundred dollars, some kitchen appliances and clothes.
‘They did not believe that, which drove them to a considerable amount of anger,’ he wrote.
‘They ended up staying for an hour, though it seemed like much longer. Driven by the belief that I was hiding valuables — refusing to believe my assurances that I would not do that with five men pointing guns at me — they attempted 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,’ he wrote.
Greenwald described how both he and the security guard had their arms and legs bound with cord while the robbers made their getaway in his car after ransacking the home for an hour.
Looking back on the incident one month on, Greenwald said that it appeared to him the thieves were ‘desperate’ and ‘not professional criminals.’
‘They were more nervous, agitated, desperate and disorganized than brutally or cooly efficient. That night, after leaving, they foolishly committed at least three other armed invasions of stores in the area using the car they stole from us.’
The stolen car, which registered to Greenwald’s husband, was quickly picked up by police later on and the identity of the criminals was soon uncovered.
Five robbers ransacked the home near Rio, pictured, but were ‘frustrated’ after they were only able to get away with a few hundred dollars in cash, clothes and kitchen appliances
‘I was struck by how desperate these armed invaders seemed to be. One of them said to me that I did not need to worry as long as I did not react, because they were there not to kill anyone but to steal because, he said, they had no jobs. But then minutes later, they were back to threatening, and it was after that that they physically assaulted the officer and put the gun in my mouth.
‘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.’
Greenwald notes that he feels extremely grateful that neither his husband nor his two young children were at home at the time of the attack and were not subjected to the trauma.
He also admits that he was reluctant to write about the encounter but was encouraged to do so by colleagues who felt it might be ‘beneficial to remind people of the impact of this kind of violent crime.’