Former President Jair Bolsonaro was targeted this Thursday by precautionary measures, such as the surrender of his passport, in the largest operation by the Federal Police against an attempted coup in the previous government, which also arrested two of his closest aides and conducted searches against several allies, including four former ministers.
According to the determination of Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, Bolsonaro is prohibited from contacting other suspects in the operation and had 24 hours to surrender his passport. The decision applies to all other suspects as well.
The lawyer and former Minister of Communications in the Jair Bolsonaro government, Fabio Wajngarten, announced in the early afternoon that the former president had already surrendered his passport.
“The passport of President @jairbolsonaro has already been delivered to the competent authorities, before 12:00 pm, in BSB according to the court’s order,” he tweeted.
The former President’s special advisor, Filipe Martins, and Marcelo Câmara, an Army colonel and former aide-de-camp to Bolsonaro, were placed under preventive arrest. Câmara is also involved in the case of the sale of jewelry received by the former president. Two other special forces military personnel were also arrested.
Among the targets of search and seizure and precautionary measures are former Defense Ministers Paulo Nogueira Batista and Walter Braga Netto, who was a vice presidential candidate on Bolsonaro’s ticket in 2022; former Minister of Institutional Security (GSI) Augusto Heleno, all retired generals; former Minister of Justice Anderson Torres; former Commander of the Navy Admiral Almir Garnier Santos; and the president of the PL, Bolsonaro’s party, Valdemar Costa Neto.
A total of 21 people, including the former president, were targeted by the Federal Police, with the execution of four preventive arrest warrants, 48 precautionary measures, and 33 search and seizure warrants.
During the operation, the president of the PL, Valdemar Costa Neto, was arrested on the spot in his house in Brasília, but for illegal possession of a firearm. An unregistered firearm was found during the search and seizure at his residence.
The operation, which investigates the attempted coup in the country, targets a large part of the former president’s inner circle and Bolsonaro himself.
The targets are accused of participating in a “criminal organization that acted in the attempted coup and abolition of the Democratic Rule of Law, in order to gain political advantage by keeping the then President of the Republic in power,” according to a statement from the Federal Police.
“In fact, the police representation, duly supported by robust elements of information, indicates the operation of a criminal group that, in a coordinated and structured manner, clearly acted to enable and carry out measures of institutional rupture. The Federal Police points to robust evidence that the suspects, for whom the precautionary measure is requested, contributed to the planning and execution of a coup d’état, which did not materialize due to circumstances beyond their control,” wrote Justice Moraes in his decision.
According to the investigations by the Federal Police, cited in Moraes’ ruling, Bolsonaro allegedly received and reviewed a draft decree to establish the coup d’état and sought support from at least one high-ranking general of the Armed Forces.
In its statement on the operation, the Federal Police also informed that the investigation uncovered two axes of action by the group involved in the attempted coup in favor of Bolsonaro.
“The first axis consisted in the construction and propagation of the version of fraud in the 2022 Elections, through the false dissemination of vulnerabilities in the electronic voting system, a discourse reiterated by the suspects since 2019 and which persisted even after the results of the second round of the elections in 2022,” it said.
“The second axis of action consisted in the practice of acts to support the abolition of the Democratic Rule of Law, through a coup d’état, with the support of military personnel with knowledge and tactics of special forces in the politically sensitive environment,” it continued.
This is the second operation involving Bolsonaro’s closest circle in two weeks. The investigation into the illegal use of Israeli software to monitor targets of the then government by the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) reached Bolsonaro’s son, Carlos Bolsonaro, and Federal Deputy Alexandre Ramagem, director of Abin in his government.
Filipe Martins’ lawyer, João Vinícius Mansur, claimed, in a statement, that he had not had access to the decision that substantiated the measures against his client and requested access to the case file in order to then comment on it.
Reuters attempted to contact the other targets of the Federal Police mentioned in the operation or their defense, but did not receive an immediate response.
The Army Command, in a statement, informed that it followed the operation launched on Thursday morning and is “providing all necessary information for the investigations.” The Navy command and the Ministry of Defense did not comment.
In an interview with radio Itatiaia on Thursday morning, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated that it was not up to him to “give opinions” on the Federal Police investigations, but he defended the investigation and pointed to Bolsonaro’s guilt.
“I think it wouldn’t have happened without him (Bolsonaro). His behavior was very different. He spent the whole time lying about the elections, lying about the electronic voting system,” he said.”