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News > Brazil

Bolsonaro's Phone Hacked, Brazil Police Make Arrests

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil July 24, 2019.

    Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil July 24, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 July 2019

The phones of several high-ranking Brazilian officials have been hacked since June, including Bolsonaro's and that of Justice Minister Sergio Moro.

President Jair Bolsonaro cell phones were accessed by cyber hackers, Brazilian Justice Ministry Sergio Moro confirmed Thursday after getting the information from the federal police “as a matter of national security.”


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Bolsonaro is the latest high-ranking government official to be targeted by hackers.  

The ministry claims the attack came from those arrested Tuesday who are being accused of hacking other government authorities.

Mobile phones used by Jair Bolsonaro were accessed by a group of hackers that also targeted Moro, who once presided over the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal. Moro was responsible for sending former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to jail in April 2018 in order to serve a 12 year sentence for supposedly accepting bribes from the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht while in office. 

The Minister of Justice Sergio Moro reported that he will destroy the messages obtained by the arrested hackers, including those that reveal crimes committed by him in the Lava Jato (case). Minister of the Supreme Court Marco Aurelio Mello responded that this decision must be made by the Court.

“I was informed by the Federal Police and @JusticaGovBR (Justice Ministry) that my cell phones were invaded by the gang arrested on Tuesday, 23. A serious attempt on Brazil and its institutions. May they be harshly punished! Brazil is no longer land without law,” tweeted the head of state Thursday.

On Wednesday, Moro accused Brazil’s Workers Party (PT), which Lula helped found decades ago, of conducting the hacks, which the party said was “clearly” another “spectacular” attempt by Moro to “frame … the PT and his opponents."

On June 9, The Intercept disclosed private telegram conversations between Judge Moro and Deltan Dallagnol, the main state prosecutor of the Car Wash corruption scandal, showing that the two colluded to convict Lula last year.

The evidence against Moro, released in a three-part series by the online media outlet, showed Moro went to great lengths to imprison Lula and prevent him from running in the 2018 presidential elections.

“Over the course of more than two years, Moro suggested to the prosecutor that his team change the sequence of who they would investigate; insisted on less downtime between raids; gave strategic advice and informal tips; provided the prosecutors with advance knowledge of his decisions; offered constructive criticism of prosecutorial filings; and even scolded Dallagnol ... as if the prosecutor worked for the judge,” the first part of The Intercept report read.


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Four people were arrested Wednesday — Gustavo Henrique Elias Santos, Suelen Priscila de Oliveira, Danilo Cristiano Marques and Walter Delgatti Neto — for allegedly hacking Moro’s phone and those of two federal judges and two federal police investigators, according to The Guardian.

On July 25, local media, Folha de S.Paulo reported that Neto informed the federal police he anonymously sent chats from the hacked phones to the Intercept’s founder, Glenn Greenwald, but had not demanded payment. Greenwald was co-author of the three-part, June publication. 

The federal police, which is under Moro’s jurisdiction, declined to comment.

Greenwald said this confirmed “everything we’ve said from the beginning about how we obtained this material: simply passively receiving the already-obtained information and then reported on it.”

Judge Vallisney de Souza Oliveira, who is presiding over the arrests, did not establish a direct link between the arrests and the messages divulged by The Intercept articles in his ruling that was revealed July 24.

Bolsonaro has insisted on using a common cell phone, rather than one encrypted by his intelligence attache because it allows him to use Twitter and WhatsApp.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro said publicly that he never handled any issues of national security, diplomacy or other sensitive issues on his hackable phone.

“I always took care with strategic information,” he told reporters. 

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