Brazil spy agency under Bolsonaro allegedly snooped on justices, politicians

BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazil’s Abin spy agency allegedly conducted illegal surveillance on at least three Supreme Court Justices and a former Lower House speaker during Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, according to Supreme Court documents unsealed on Thursday.

The release of the documents came shortly after Brazil’s federal police searched addresses linked to Congressman Alexandre Ramagem, Bolsonaro’s former spy chief. Ramagem is suspected of orchestrating the illegal spying against Bolsonaro’s foes during his time leading Abin from 2019-2022.

The Supreme Court investigation adds to Bolsonaro’s mounting legal woes. The far-right ex-army captain has already been ruled politically ineligible until 2030 for his conduct during the 2022 presidential election, and faces multiple criminal probes that could still land him in jail.

Under Ramagem’s command, Abin allegedly illegally snooped on at least three Supreme Court justices, the former Lower House speaker and an attorney working in the 2018 murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco, according to the decision seen by Reuters that approved Thursday’s raids.

Ramagem, a former federal cop and Bolsonaro loyalist who is planning to run for mayor of Rio, said the court order was baseless.

“It is a mix of old and outdated narratives used to criminally accuse people without any evidence,” he told the GloboNews network.

Brazil’s Federal Police also sought Ramagen’s suspension as a congressman, but the request was denied by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who authorized the police raids, saying he saw no need “currently” to suspend him from Congress.

Abin was also allegedly used to prepare reports for Bolsonaro’s son Flavio Bolsonaro in his defense in a corruption case, and to interfere in investigations related to another of the former president’s sons, Jair Renan Bolsonaro.

Flavio Bolsonaro denied in a statement that Abin had acted in his favor. Jair Renan Bolsonaro declined to comment. A spokesperson of the former president did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier on Thursday, the federal police carried out 21 search and seizure raids in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and other locations. A police source said cell phones and laptops, including one that was Abin property, were seized in on one of Ramagem’s apartments. — Reuters

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