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Brazil’s Former President Bolsonaro Surrenders Passport Amid Police Probe of Alleged Coup Attempt

Federal Raids Target Bolsonaro and Inner Circle Over January 8 Riots, Prompting Legal Firestorm and Political Turmoil.

Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro surrendered his passport on Thursday as federal police launched raids targeting him and his inner circle. The raids are part of an investigation into allegations of orchestrating an invasion of government buildings last year, characterized as an “attempted coup.”

Federal police conducted 33 search and seizure operations, along with executing four arrest warrants, in connection with a probe into a “criminal organization involved in the attempted coup.” This investigation stems from the storming of the presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court on January 8, 2023, allegedly orchestrated by Bolsonaro supporters.

The raids were authorized by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who also ordered multiple suspects to surrender their passports within 24 hours and be suspended from public duties. Bolsonaro, along with other high-ranking officials targeted in the raids, complied with the order.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer and adviser Fabio Wajngarten confirmed in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that the far-right ex-army captain’s passport had been handed over to authorities.

Bolsonaro, labelling himself a victim of “relentless persecution,” vehemently denied any responsibility for the riots, maintaining his innocence despite mounting evidence. Among those targeted in the raids were four army generals, including Bolsonaro’s former defense minister and vice presidential candidate Walter Braga Netto, as well as Valdemar Costa Neto, head of Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (PL).

The unrest erupted a week after Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with tens of thousands of Bolsonaro supporters storming government buildings, alleging electoral fraud and calling for Lula’s ouster. The incident drew parallels to the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

Justice Moraes characterized the suspects’ actions as part of a “plan to subvert the democratic rule of law,” aimed at preventing the installation of the legitimately elected government and keeping Bolsonaro in power. Investigators uncovered plans to call for new elections and arrest Moraes, a frequent target of Bolsonaro’s criticism.

The escalating investigations into Bolsonaro’s alleged involvement in the riots underscore a pivotal moment in Brazilian politics. With over 2,000 arrests related to the January 8 attacks and 30 convictions for attempted coup charges, analysts suggest the investigation is reaching a decisive juncture.

Bolsonaro, already facing multiple corruption and abuse of office allegations from his tenure, received another setback from the electoral court, which fined him for spreading disinformation during the presidential campaign. The ongoing probes not only threaten Bolsonaro’s political future but also ensnare his inner circle, including several of his sons, in allegations of illegal surveillance during his presidency.

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