Police Investigate The Son Of Former Brazilian President Bolsonaro For Alleged Spying On Opponents

FILE - Flavio Bosonaro, center, and Carlos Bolsonaro, sons of Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, attend a ceremony officially confirming the presidential elections results which their dad won at the Supreme Electoral Court in Brasilia Brazil, Dec. 10, 2018. Brazil's federal police carried out a search warrant Jan. 29, 2024 for Carlos Bolsonaro, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, an officer with knowledge of the operation told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)
FILE - Flavio Bosonaro, center, and Carlos Bolsonaro, sons of Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, attend a ceremony officially confirming the presidential elections results which their dad won at the Supreme Electoral Court in Brasilia Brazil, Dec. 10, 2018. Brazil's federal police carried out a search warrant Jan. 29, 2024 for Carlos Bolsonaro, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, an officer with knowledge of the operation told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's federal police on Monday searched the home and office of Carlos Bolsonaro, the son of former President Jair Bolsonaro and a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, two days after the Supreme Court granted the warrants.

Police said in a statement that they conducted nine searches Monday as part of a broader investigation into the nation's intelligence agency and alleged spying on political opponents during Bolsonaro's term, which ended in Dec. 2022.

In a decision made public Monday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said the police claim it has identified a group, of which Carlos Bolsonaro allegedly forms part, that “monitored ‘political enemies’ and sought information about the existence of investigations related to the children of the then President of the Republic Jair Messias Bolsonaro.”

Images broadcast on TV network GloboNews showed Carlos and his father outside the latter's residence in Angra dos Reis, south of Rio de Janeiro. Police searched the former president’s house for any electronic devices, including phones and laptops, belonging to Carlos.

The two men, along with two of Carlos' brothers, lawmaker Eduardo and senator Flávio, had been on a fishing trip since 5:00 a.m. when they heard of the warrants, the former president's lawyer, Fabio Wajngarten, said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, a federal lawmaker, complained on X that police also seized equipment belonging to an adviser of the former president, who happened to be in the house during the police raid, even though he was not targeted by a warrant.

In an interview with one of the country's main independent newspapers, O Globo, Flávio accused the police of being on a “fishing expedition.”

Carlos Bolsonaro's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP, and had not publicly commented the raid.

Monday's operation comes days after federal police searched the office and home of the former chief of Brazil's intelligence agency under Bolsonaro, Alexandre Ramagem, and a dozen other people.

Police statements and Supreme Court documents show police are investigating an “organized crime” group that operated within the intelligence agency, known by its Portuguese acronym ABIN, during Bolsonaro's term. The group allegedly used the agency’s tools and services for political use and personal gain.

The group is also suspected of seeking to interfere with ongoing police investigations, some of which targeted or involved two of Bolsonaro’s other sons, Jair Renan and Flávio.

Police suspect ABIN under Ramagem used a software known as FirstMile, developed by Israeli company Cognyte, “to monitor targets and public authorities ... with the aim of creating false narratives,” according to Supreme Court documents.

The software allows the geolocalization of cellphones. De Moraes, the Supreme Court Justice, said in its decision that police had identified over 60,500 uses of the software between 2019 and 2021.

O Globo, which broke the story in May, reported that ABIN agents used to software to monitor political figures and journalists.

Monday's police statement said the latest operation sought to advance the political side of the investigation, to "identify the main recipients and beneficiaries of illegally produced information.”

Sunday night, Jair Bolsonaro conducted a two-and-a-half-hour long live broadcast on social media, along with three of his sons, including Carlos. The broadcast was done from a house in the seaside city of Angra dos Reis.

In the video, the Bolsonaros defended Ramagem and criticized the investigation, with the former president calling the idea of a parallel intelligence unit “fantastical.”

Local outlets reported on Ramagem's ties with the Bolsonaro family since the presidential campaign of 2018. Then a federal police officer, Ramagem served as one of Jair Bolsonaro’s security coordinators, O Globo reported. In one photo widely shared by local media, he appears all smiles at a 2018-2019 New Year's Eve party alongside Carlos Bolsonaro and their then spouses.

Bolsonaro appointed Ramagem to lead ABIN in May 2019. The right-wing leader had previously appointed him to be federal police chief but quickly yielded to growing criticism around the nomination for Ramagem was widely seen as too close to the president’s family, and that he might give members preferential treatment.

In a March 2020 TV interview, Gustavo Bebianno, who had acted as one of the former president’s key aides and as a Cabinet minister before being fired, said Carlos had spoken to him about creating a parallel intelligence unit within the agency.

“One fine day, Carlos shows up with the name of a federal detective and three agents who would form a parallel ABIN, because he didn’t trust ABIN,” Bebianno told TV program Roda Viva shortly before his death in 2020. “We advised the president not to do anything of the sort... After I left, I don’t know if this was implemented or not.” Less than two weeks after the interview, Bebianno died suddenly from a heart attack, according to his family.

O Globo, which is based in Rio, reported that law enforcement had seized a computer that belonged to ABIN in one of the addresses mentioned in the warrants. The agency's press department told the AP in an email it was investigating the claim.