February 8, 2024 –Brazil’s ex-President Jair Bolsonaro has surrendered his passport amid an ongoing investigation into the 2023 storming of Brazil’s Congress by his supporters.
Police accuse him of having led a failed plot to remain in power after losing the election to his left-wing rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Mr Bolsonaro says the operation is politically motivated.
Three of Mr Bolsonaro’s allies have been arrested.
The head of his political party has also been detained.
They are suspected of plotting to keep Mr Bolsonaro in power following his election defeat in October 2022.
Police accuse them of spreading doubts about the electoral system, which became a rallying cry for his supporters, who claimed the election was stolen from Mr Bolsonaro.
This, police argue, set the stage for a potential coup. When it failed to get the support of the armed forces, however, his frustrated supporters stormed Congress, the building housing the Supreme Court and the presidential palace on 8 January 2023.
Mr Bolsonaro was in the US when the attack on Congress happened.
On Thursday he denied any wrongdoing.
“I left the government more than a year ago and I continue to suffer relentless persecution,” Mr Bolsonaro said when contacted by Brazilian newspaper Folha following searches carried out by police at dozens of properties.
“Forget about me. There is already someone else running the country,” he added.
A lawyer for the former leader said his client would comply with the order to hand over his passport.
The ex-president returned to Brazil in March 2023 – two months after the Congress storming – saying he had nothing to fear, despite facing a number of investigations.
In June, he was banned from running for office for eight years for casting unfounded doubts on Brazil’s electronic voting system.
But interest has been greatest in the investigation into the events of 8 January 2023.
Brazil’s federal police only gave limited details about the operation it carried out on Thursday, but said it was targeting a “criminal organisation involved in the attempted coup”.
Over the past year, more than 1,400 people have been charged over their alleged role in the riots but so far only a few dozen have been convicted.