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Brazilian police said that Bolsonaro and his allies planned a coup

Brazilian police said that Bolsonaro and his allies planned a coup

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's former president, oversaw a wide-ranging plot to cling to power regardless of the results of the 2022 election, including personally writing a proposed warrant for the arrest of a Supreme Court judge, according to new allegations from Brazil's federal police revealed on Thursday.

Federal police said Bolsonaro and dozens of senior advisers, ministers and military leaders worked together to undermine Brazilians' confidence in the election and pave the way for a possible coup.

Police said their efforts included spreading disinformation about election fraud, crafting legal arguments for new elections, recruiting military personnel to support the coup, monitoring judges, and encouraging and directing protesters who eventually stormed government buildings.

The scandalous accusations were contained in a 134-page court order that authorized a large-scale federal police operation on Thursday targeting Bolsonaro and about two dozen of his political allies, including the former defense minister, the former national security adviser, and the former justice minister. And former Commander-in-Chief of the Brazilian Navy.

The operation included search warrants and the arrest of four people, including two army officers and two former senior Bolsonaro advisers.

The former president was ordered to surrender his passport, remain in the country, and not contact any other person under investigation.

Bolsonaro said Thursday that he was the innocent victim of a politically motivated operation.

“I left the government more than a year ago and continue to suffer from ongoing persecution,” the former president declared. For the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. “Humanitarian. There is already someone else ruling the country.”

Lula spent 580 days in prison on corruption charges that were dropped after Brazil's Federal Supreme Court ruled that the judge who heard his cases was biased.

The charges unsealed Thursday show how the former president and his allies tried to subvert Brazil's nascent democracy, including troubling details of a country that was ruled by a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

Sometime in November 2022, after Bolsonaro lost the election but remained president, Felipe Martins, one of his senior advisers, presented him with a draft of a legal document alleging that Brazil's Supreme Federal Court illegally interfered in the affairs of the executive branch. According to the Federal Police. The document ordered the arrest of two Supreme Court judges and the Senate president, and called for new elections, according to police.

Police said Bolsonaro ordered changes to the document so that only one of the Federal Supreme Court judges would be detained. Once the document was updated, Bolsonaro summoned top military commanders to the presidential residence to present the document and press for the coup, police said. The outcome of that meeting was not clear.

The Supreme Court judge who was to be arrested in this order was Alexandre de Moraes, the same judge who oversaw investigations into Bolsonaro and his allies for years, making him one of the former president's enemies.

De Moraes issued the court order authorizing the arrests and police action on Thursday. The arrest warrant revealed that federal police also discovered evidence that two of Bolsonaro's advisors monitored de Moraes' travels in case the government tried to arrest him.

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In the court order unsealed Thursday, De Moraes said the counselors' accuracy in knowing his schedule suggested they may have been using technology to monitor him.

Federal police separately accused Bolsonaro's son and the former head of Brazil's intelligence agency of using Israeli spyware, among other tools, to monitor political enemies of the former president, including de Moraes.

Thursday's court order also revealed details of a meeting in July 2022, three months before the election, where Bolsonaro ordered senior government officials and military commanders to spread allegations of election fraud, despite a lack of evidence. “From now on, I want all ministers to say what I will say here,” Bolsonaro said at the meeting, according to a recording obtained by police.

Transcripts that appear in court documents reveal that the former president appeared to believe, or at least continued to spread, various conspiracy theories that his rivals were rigging the election.

He falsely claimed that electronic voting systems were preloaded with results and that election judges received tens of millions of dollars in bribes.

“I have no evidence. But something strange is happening,” Bolsonaro said, according to police. “Losing the election is not a problem. “What we cannot do is lose democracy in rigged elections.”

At another stage, he asked his ministers and military commanders to sign a public letter saying that Brazil's electoral system could not be trusted. (This letter was never published.)

However, several government ministers and military leaders present at the meeting agreed with Bolsonaro's opinion on the electoral system.

Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro's former justice minister, urged those in attendance to take action, noting that they would face consequences if Lula became president. “I want everyone to think about what they can do beforehand because everyone is going to get hurt,” he said, according to police.

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Paulo Sergio Nogueira, Bolsonaro's former defense minister and army chief, said he views Brazilian election officials as “the enemy” and that military commanders meet weekly to ensure fair elections.

“I hope we succeed in re-electing you,” he told Bolsonaro, according to police. “This is all our desire.”

But there were also signs of internal doubt among Bolsonaro's allies. Two days after the first round of Brazilian elections, which sent Bolsonaro and Lula to a second round, an army officer sent a text message to Bolsonaro's personal advisor, Mauro Cid, in which he said he hoped Bolsonaro's team “knows what you are doing.”

“Me too,” replied Syed, who was instrumental in planning the hit, according to police. “If not, I will go to prison.”

Cid was arrested shortly after Lula's election and accused of helping falsify Bolsonaro's vaccine records. He signed a cooperation agreement with the authorities.

The army officer then asked whether Bolsonaro's team had found evidence of election fraud.

“Nothing,” Syed replied, according to police. “There is no indication of fraud.”

Paolo Motorin Collaborate with reports from Brasilia.

Jack Necas is the Head of the Brazil Bureau covering Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. He previously reported on technology from San Francisco, and before joining The Times in 2018, he spent seven years at The Wall Street Journal. More Jack Nickas