Lawyers for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are appealing a decision to seize his passport, on the heels of an appeals court ruling upholding his corruption conviction.
The seizure was approved on Thursday, a day after appellate court judges voted to uphold Lula's convictions for taking a bribe and money laundering, in a major blow to the popular politician's plans to run again for the presidency this year.
Lula was planning to travel to an African Union conference in Ethiopia. The lawyers claimed on Friday that the passport seizure violated his constitutional right to freedom of movement, Reuters reports.
Lula's lawyer Cristiano Zanin on Thursday called the decision "shocking" and an unnecessary restriction on his freedom of movement.
"Former President Lula was guaranteed by the Federal Constitution the right to come and go, which can only be restricted in the event of a final and unappealable conviction, which does not exist and we do not believe it will exist because he did not commit any crime," a statement from the defense said.
According to Lula's defense attorney, Judge Ricardo Leite was fully aware of the former president's plans to travel to Ethiopia Friday and never once opposed the motion.
Earlier Thursday, the Lula announced his resolve to continue on and pursue his race for presidential candidacy as a representative of the Workers Party. He also told the convention of supporters of his upcoming trip and briefly touched on possibly seeking asylum abroad.
"As I go to Africa, my opponents are so ignorant that, if I went to France, they would say: 'Lula is going to be exiled in France.' If I went to Italy: 'Lula is going to Italy to be exiled,' but I'm going to Africa, and the prejudice is so great that they do not admit that someone can go to Ethiopia to be exiled," the former president said.