Brazil police target Bolsonaro allies in probe of coup attempt

Brazil police target Bolsonaro allies in probe of coup attempt


Brazil police target Bolsonaro allies in probe of coup attempt

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's federal police on Thursday launched an operation targeting some of former President Jair Bolsonaro's top aides, sources involved in the operation told Reuters, in an investigation into an attempted coup after his election defeat.

In a statement, federal police did not name the targets of the operation, but said they were accused of participating in "a criminal organization that acted in an attempted coup d'état" aimed at "keeping the then President of the Republic in power."

The targets of search warrants include General Walter Braga Netto, a former minister and former vice-presidential candidate on Bolsonaro's campaign, former Defense Minister Paulo Nogueira Batista, and ex-Justice Minister Anderson Torres, sources said.

Police visited Bolsonaro's beach house and told the former president to hand over his passport, said three sources, who requested anonymity to discuss an active operation.

A spokesman for the Bolsonaro family, Fabio Wajngarten, said on social media that the ex-president would comply and hand over his passport.

Bolsonaro's former international affairs advisor Felipe Martins is one of four people targeted with arrest warrants, the sources said.

Reuters attempted to contact the targets of the police operation and their lawyers but received no immediate response.

Police said in their statement that the targets of Thursday's operation formed a group in 2022 spreading claims of electoral fraud "even before the election took place" to "legitimize a military intervention."

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in the 2022 election, said the coup attempt had to be investigated to prevent the same from happening again.

"Without Bolsonaro there would have been no coup attempt," Lula said in a radio interview.

A week after Lula took office in January 2023, Bolsonaro supporters who had gathered for days outside army headquarters invaded and vandalized government buildings in Brasilia, calling for a military takeover.