David Miranda, who rose from the slums of Rio to the Brazilian Congress, dies at 37

David Miranda, a child from the slums of Rio de Janeiro who became a leading voice for gay rights in the Brazilian Congress and who played a supporting role in the leaking of classified documents by Edward J. Snowden, died Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro. He was 37 years old.

Her husband, US journalist Glenn Greenwald, said Mr Miranda died in a hospital intensive care unit after a nine-month battle with an abdominal infection.

It was Mr. Miranda’s role in Snowden’s escape that led to his political career.

In 2013, Mr. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, handed over a treasure trove of highly classified documents on US surveillance programs to Mr. Greenwald and several other journalists, infuriating US officials and sparking a debate international law on mass surveillance and privacy. .

Mr Miranda helped lead an effort to secure asylum in Brazil for Mr Snowden, who had flown to Hong Kong from Hawaii and was wanted by the United States on criminal charges. The campaign attracted support from a number of Brazilian celebrities, and the Brazilian Senate’s Foreign Relations and Defense Committee recommended granting asylum.

Ultimately, the effort failed and Mr Snowden flew to Russia, where he was later granted citizenship.

That same year 2013, Mr. Miranda was detained and interrogated for nine hours by British authorities at Heathrow Airport in London while traveling from Berlin to Rio. He was carrying documents related to the Snowden leaks and the government confiscated his phone, laptop, camera, USB drives and DVDs.

An appeal in the case led to a 2016 court ruling that a key part of the law under which he was detained, the UK Terrorism Act 2000, was “incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights”. of man”.

In a Tweeter On Tuesday, Mr. Snowden praised Mr. Miranda for his bravery.

“I will never forget that when the UK broke its own laws to detain David as a ‘terrorist’ for daring to help an act of journalism – and threatened to throw him in a dungeon for the rest of his life – it never wavered,” Mr. Snowden wrote. “Instead, he challenged them to do it.”

This experience was a political wake-up call for Mr. Miranda and gave him name recognition to seek a political career in Brazil. In 2016, he ran for a seat on Rio City Council, pledging to defend LGBT rights and fight inequality. He became one of the first openly gay members of the council.

Monica Benicio, a Rio city councilor and gay rights advocate, said in an interview that Mr Miranda was a born leader who “has become a symbol of the struggle for LGBT rights in Brazil and abroad”.

In 2019, when Jean Wyllys, an openly gay member of Congress, resigned and went into exile due to death threats, Mr Miranda was nominated by the Socialism and Freedom Party to take his place.

He immediately became a foil for Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, known for his inflammatory comments about women, gay people and black people. Shortly after Mr. Wyllys gave up his seat, Mr. Bolsonaro tweeted“Beautiful day!”

“One LGBT person is leaving, but another is coming,” Miranda replied. “See you in Brasilia”, the national capital.

Mr Miranda came under attack from Mr Bolsonaro’s allies in Congress, throwing him off balance as he tried to navigate an institution where most lawmakers were wealthy white men.

“I felt like I didn’t belong,” he said in a 2019 interview with The New York Times. “Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing.”

His battle with the Bolsonaro administration escalated a few months later, when Mr. Greenwald’s news agency, Intercept Brasil, published reports suggesting that Mr. Bolsonaro’s main challenger in the race, the former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had been wrongfully imprisoned for only six months. before the election, raising questions about the legitimacy of Mr Bolsonaro’s victory.

Mr Greenwald and Mr Miranda said they had both been subject to death threats as well as “official acts of retaliation”.

Mr Miranda continued to be a fierce opponent of the Bolsonaro government, criticizing its budget cuts in education And culture and accusing him of mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was running for election to the seat he held when he was hospitalized with a gastrointestinal infection in August 2022.

David Michael dos Santos Miranda was born on May 10, 1985 in Rio de Janeiro. He was the son of a prostitute, who died at the age of 5, and was raised by an aunt in Jacarezinho, a favela in the city. He dropped out of school at age 13.

He was 19 when he met Mr. Greenwald, then a 37-year-old New York lawyer, on a Rio beach after accidentally spilling Mr. Greenwald’s drink with a ball.

Three days later, they move in together. Mr. Miranda soon returned to school and earned a degree in journalism. They adopted two children in 2018 and a third in 2021.

Besides Mr. Greenwald, they are survived by their sons João Victor, Jonathas and Marcelo.

In October, Brazilian voters ousted Mr. Bolsonaro and elected Mr. Lula to replace him.

Mr Lula praised Mr. Miranda Tuesday as a young man with an “extraordinary trajectory”.

This trajectory – the path of a gay and black orphan from a Rio slum to the halls of Congress – Mr Greenwald told the Times, was “too rare in a country plagued by massive racial and economic inequality”. .

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