David Miranda, Brazilian congressman and husband of Glenn Greenwald, dies at 37 after 9-month ICU battle

‘He died in full peace, surrounded by our children and family and friends,’ Greenwald says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 09 May 2023 17:28 BST
David Miranda testifies before the investigative committee of the Senate that examines charges of espionage by the United States in Brasilia on October 9, 2013
David Miranda testifies before the investigative committee of the Senate that examines charges of espionage by the United States in Brasilia on October 9, 2013 (AFP/Getty Images)

David Miranda, a former Brazilian congressman and the husband of journalist Glenn Greenwald, has passed away at the age of 37 after a nine-month-long battle in the ICU with a gastrointestinal infection.

Mr Greenwald, 56, took to Twitter to write a tribute to his husband.

Shortly after 8am on Tuesday 9 May, Mr Greenwald wrote: “It is with the most profound sadness that I announce the passing away of my husband, @DavidMirandaRio. He would have turned 38 tomorrow. His death, early this morning, came after a 9-month battle in ICU. He died in full peace, surrounded by our children and family and friends.”

Miranda was lauded by Brazilian politicians, celebrities, and activists, with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tweeting: “My condolences to @ggreenwald and family for the loss of David Miranda. A young man with an extraordinary trajectory who left too soon.”

Miranda, who served in the Brazilian congress between 2019 and 2022, was a strong member of the resistance to the far-right administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, according to The Guardian.

Renata Souza, a legislator on the left, tweeted about her “immense sorrow at the departure of my dear friend David Miranda. A funny, loving, party-loving guy who never gave up fighting for life and for the people of the favela”.

Brazilian rapper Emicida wrote: “Today Brazil has lost a courageous young man who, in fighting for his dreams, ended up unshackling the dreams of many others too.”

Rosângela Lula da Silva, the first lady of Brazil, tweeted that Miranda was leaving a legacy “of struggle and love” and the president of the Worker’s Party (PT), Gleisi Hoffmann, wrote that “he had a vivacity which brought joy to politics”.

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, right, and his partner David Miranda (AP)

Miranda was the first gay man to be elected to the city council in Rio. He was also pivotal in the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks, an effort led by Mr Greenwald. Miranda was held at Heathrow Airport in London for nine hours while on his way to Rio carrying memory sticks with documents related to the Snowden revelations, The Guardian noted.

Mr Greenwald told The New York Times in 2019 that he met Miranda on a beach in the Ipanema neighbourhood of Rio when Miranda knocked his drink over with a ball.

“I was not at all the type that ever fell in love with someone at first sight,” Mr Greenwald said at the time. “But the passion, David’s intensity, it was like two asteroids colliding.”

Mr Greenwald added on Twitter on Tuesday that his husband’s life had been “extraordinary in all ways,” noting that Miranda lost his mother at age five, “leaving him an orphan in Jacarezinho”.

“A beautiful and compassionate neighbor” called Dona Eliane took care of Miranda despite having four of her own children and being in “deep poverty,” Mr Greenwald said.

The neighbour became Miranda’s mother and “gave him a chance for a life”.

“That gave David the chance to live his full potential in a society that often suffocates it. He was key to the Snowden story, became the first gay man elected to Rio’s City Council, then federal Congress at 32. He inspired so many with his biography, passion, and force of life,” Mr Greenwald wrote in the Twitter thread.

The journalist said there was “nobody with a stronger will or life force”.

Being a father was Miranda’s “biggest dream” and it gave him “the greatest pride and purpose,” according to Mr Greenwald. “He was the most dedicated and loving parent. He taught me how to be a father. And our truly exceptional boys - with their own difficult start to [life] - is his greatest legacy.”

Mr Greenwald said he was told on 6 August, the day Miranda was hospitalised, that he was unlikely to live through that week.

“I heard the same 3 times since,” Mr Greenwald wrote. “He refused, in classic David style. The last 4 months gave our family the most beautiful moments together.”

The husband said Miranda was “the strongest, most passionate, most compassionate man I’ve known. Nobody had a bad word for him”.

“I can’t describe the loss and pain. I’ll do my best to honor his legacy: our children and our NGOs. And I know so many will celebrate him and his impact,” he concluded.

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