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Brazil federal police say Bolsonaro committed crime by leaking sealed probe

Brazil federal police say Bolsonaro committed crime by leaking sealed probe

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Jan 28, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Adriano Machado)

BRASILIA: Brazil's federal police on Wednesday (Feb 2) said President Jair Bolsonaro committed a crime by publicly revealing details about a sealed criminal probe, but would not recommend charging him given his immunity while in office.

The federal police's conclusion that the president committed a crime is unlikely to trouble Bolsonaro due to his immunity from prosecution. But it adds to growing institutional tensions in Brazil ahead of this year's presidential vote in which the far-right populist faces an uphill battle to be re-elected.

In August 2021, during a live video address on social media, Bolsonaro made public the content of an inquiry into an alleged hack against Brazil's electoral court TSE, using the case to question the integrity of the country's electoral process.

Federal police Detective Denisse Ribeiro said in a report sent to the Supreme Court, and seen by Reuters, that Bolsonaro was responsible for a breach of secrecy "with the purpose of spreading information known to be false, with damaging repercussions for the public administration".

However, Ribeiro said in the report that she could not recommend that charges be brought against Bolsonaro, due to his immunity.

The president's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court will now send the federal police's recommendations to the prosecutor general's office, which will decide whether to seek to charge the president, investigate further, or shelve the case.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly made unfounded claims that Brazil's electronic voting system was rigged during the 2018 presidential election. He says he should have been elected already in the first round of voting, but has presented no evidence of fraud.

In his August 2021 live broadcast, he raised questions about the safety of the electronic voting system used in Brazil since 1996 and then revealed details from the sealed inquiry.

Brazil's solicitor general's office, which would represent Bolsonaro in any eventual case, said in response to a Reuters request for comment that it would only respond to the federal police allegations if they were to end up in court.

Source: Reuters/ec

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