Federal Police investigate Bolsonaro and allies for January 8 coup attempt

Investigations point out that digital groups were formed to spread misinformation about election fraud

February 09, 2024 by Brasil de Fato
Advisors to former President Jair Bolsonaro were arrested this Thursday morning (Photo: Palácio do Planalto)

On February 8, Brazil’s Federal Police (PF) carried out an operation to officially open the investigation into the involvement of former president Jair Bolsonaro, as well as some of his former ministers and advisers, in a criminal organization that allegedly planned a coup d’état in 2023. Two of Bolsonaro’s former advisers were arrested, and multiple search and seizure warrants were executed.

The country’s Federal Police carried out 33 search and seizure warrants, four preventive arrest warrants, and 48 additional precautionary measures. These measures included restrictions on contact with other individuals under investigation, travel bans (with an order to surrender Bolsonaro’s passport within 24 hours) and suspension of public functions. Notably, during the 2022 presidential campaign, organized groups allegedly spread misinformation about election fraud, intending to make it easier for military intervention.

The investigation focuses on two main aspects:

Dissemination of falsehoods: The first axis targets the spreading of lies about electronic voting machines, whose supposed “hacking” and “fraud” occurred during the 2022 elections, which Bolsonaro lost.

Acts to undermine democracy: The second axis involves planning actions to overthrow democracy, including the invasion of the National Congress on January 8, 2023, with military support.

The alleged offenses under investigation include criminal organization, the violent undermining of the democratic state and an attempted coup.

Bolsonaro’s political party president arrested

Valdemar Costa Neto, the president of the Liberal Party (PL, in Portuguese), was arrested on January 8 for possession of an unregistered firearm. He is suspected of participating in the attempted coup allegedly led by former President Jair Bolsonaro in 2022.

Costa Neto was taken to the Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia, where he gave testimony. It is unknown whether he will remain in custody or be released. The PF searched his properties at the request of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF, in Portuguese).

According to the MPF, Costa Neto and other individuals under investigation used the party’s campaign committee to prepare a coup document that would be released on December 7, 2022. They also spread lies about Brazil’s electronic voting system during the 2022 presidential election, which Bolsonaro did not win.

Costa Neto’s defense did not comment. The Liberal Party’s vice president, Captain Augusto, said the party supports and trusts Neto.

This article was originally published on Brasil de Fato.