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Police Raid on Brazilian President Bolsonaro Sparks Accusations of Political Persecution from Supporters

Authorities entered the former president’s residency and gave him 24 hours to turn in his passport.

CURITIBA—Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro had his home raided by Federal Police agents on the morning of Feb. 8.

The Federal Police is Brazil’s equivalent of the FBI.

The operation targeting the Brazilian right-winger—often dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics”—was part of an investigation on an alleged criminal organization that supposedly attempted to abolish rule of law and have a “coup d’etat” to “obtain gains of political nature by maintaining the then President in office.”

The president was home with an aide when the raid happened. Authorities entered the former president’s residency at Angra dos Reis and gave Mr. Bolsonaro 24 hours to turn in his passport. His lawyer later confirmed his passport was delivered to authorities.

The full operation spanned nine Brazilian states and the country’s administrative district, which holds the capital city of Brasília—striking some of Mr. Bolsonaro’s closest allies and former officials.

According to the Brazilian Federal Police, 48 people were targeted. All were forbidden from contacting other subjects of investigation, leaving the country, and were told to turn in their passports, either Brazilian or from other countries, within a 24-hour deadline; 33 were targeted for raids, and 4 people were arrested.

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Mr. Bolsonaro’s running mate for his 2022 defeated bid for reelection and his former head of institutional security were raided by police. Two of the former president’s top aides and the head of his political party were detained.

The investigation centers around Brazil’s Jan. 8 riots as the supposed breaking point of the alleged failed “coup.”

The Jan. 8 riots—reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach—saw the storming of key government buildings in Brazil in the wake of protests casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process and opposing socialist Lula da Silva. Mr. Lula defeated Mr. Bolsonaro by a thin margin in the 2022 elections.

About 2,000 people have been detained in connection with the events. Lawyers of some Jan. 8 defendants told The Epoch Times the prosecutions are being conducted illegally, including human rights violations and lack of due legal process.

Allegations of Persecution

The Federal Police’s operation comes on the heels of other police raids against Bolsonaro allies and of long-running classified investigations that censored media and opposition.

In January, two pro-Bolsonaro congressmen had their homes and offices raided. Both of them were mayoral hopefuls in the upcoming 2024 mayoral elections in Brazil.

Consistent Federal Police operations authorized by Brazil’s Supreme Court suppressing right-wing opposition in the country sparked allegations of persecution.

Mr. Bolsonaro told a local media outlet he felt “the target of persecution.”

Paulo Figueiredo, a top Brazilian journalist targeted in the Feb. 8 police raids, told The Epoch Times: “the Supreme Court does not want people to know what went on in the army’s top echelons in 2022. If this investigation did something, it was proving that all I reported back then actually happened. A journalist relies on good sources, and I have good sources. You can’t make that a crime.”

Mr. Figueiredo had been accused of spreading misinformation for reporting on discussions in the Brazilian military about doubts on how to secure transparency in the 2022 vote, and for commenting on allegations that the electoral justice system was biased in its handling of the elections. Living in the United States, he hasn’t had his home raided in the operation, but was blocked from contacting other investigated subjects.

About the alleged planning of a coup, he wrote in his social media, currently censored by court order inside Brazil, that “[The Supreme Court’s] decision does not present any material evidence, except for message exchanges discussing potential legal actions.”

Mr. Bolsonaro’s former vice-president, Gen. Hamilton Mourão, said “the country is in a situation of non-normality. Endless investigations are trying to find [something where there is nothing], attacking, with the justification of a supposed coup d’etat, the honor and the integrity of military heads that dedicated their lives to Brazil.”

Bia Kicis, a right-wing congresswoman and opposition leader, said “this is political persecution, and there is no democracy without an opposition.”

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