Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday surrendered his passport as police raids targeted him and his inner circle over allegations of orchestrating an invasion of government buildings last year.
Federal police said they were carrying out 33 search and seizure operations and executing four arrest warrants in an investigation of a “criminal organization involved in the attempted coup” — a reference to Bolsonaro supporters’ storming of Brazilian Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court on Jan. 8 last year.
The raids were authorized by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who also ordered that multiple suspects be suspended from public duties and surrender their passports within 24 hours.
That included Bolsonaro, whose lawyer and adviser Fabio Wajngarten said in a statement on X that the far-right former army captain’s passport had been handed over to authorities.
Bolsonaro called himself the victim of “relentless persecution,” in comments to a journalist for newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro, who was in the US at the time of the riots, has repeatedly denied responsibility.
Four army generals were also targeted in the raids, including Bolsonaro’s former defense minister and vice presidential candidate Walter Braga Netto, and one of the former president’s closest advisers, Augusto Heleno.
The president of Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party, Valdemar Costa Neto, was also targeted.
Two army officers and a former international affairs adviser to Bolsonaro, Filipe Martins, have been arrested in the operation so far, Brazilian media reports have said.
The riots came a week after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration, following a narrow election win in October 2022 over Bolsonaro, who served as president from 2019 to 2022.
Tens of thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the halls of power, trashing the premises and calling for the military to oust veteran leftist Lula, alleging, without evidence, that the election was stolen.
Moraes said in his ruling the suspects had “executed a plan to subvert the democratic rule of law, with the aim of preventing the installment of the legitimately elected government and maintaining then-president Jair Bolsonaro in power.”
Investigators said organizers had drafted a plan to call new elections and arrest Moraes. The high court judge is a frequent target of Bolsonaro’s criticism.
Lula called for a full investigation to uncover who organized and financed the Jan. 8 attacks.
“I don’t think it could have happened without” Bolsonaro, Lula said in an interview with Brazil’s Radio Itatiaia. “He wasn’t ready to give up power, to the point that he refused to hand me the presidential sash and ran off crying to the United States.”
More than 2,000 people have been arrested over the riots in Brasilia. Thirty have been convicted so far on charges including an attempted coup, with prison sentences of up to 17 years.
On Thursday, police found a document at the headquarters of the Liberal Party in Brasilia which appeared to be a speech announcing a state of siege, according to a version published by media.
Wajngarten said his client was not the author, adding that the text “does not correspond” with Bolsonaro’s speech patterns.
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