Former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said that the pretrial arrest warrant issued for former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on charges of treason amounts to a "judicial and media hunt."
"I express my solidarity with President Cristina Kirchner and her allies who did so much for the Argentine people and for South American integration," said the former leader, who himself has been convicted of alleged "corruption" charges by Michel Temer's right-wing government, posted on Twitter Friday.
"It is worrisome: the real judicial and media hunt launched against (Fernandez), whom I admire and esteem."
Expresso minha solidariedade à presidenta Cristina Kirchner e a seus colaboradores que tanto fizeram pelo povo argentino e pela integração sul americana. É preocupante a verdadeira caçada judicial e midiática lançada contra essa companheira a quem tanto admiro e estimo.— Lula pelo Brasil (@LulapeloBrasil) December 8, 2017
Federal judge Claudio Bonadio ordered her arrest Thursday, alleging Fernandez committed "treason" and participated in an "orchestrated" cover-up in connection with the bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutualist Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires in 1994.
The judge claimed that in signing a memorandum of understanding with Iranian officials in Argentina in 2013, Fernandez had agreed not to investigate the alleged involvement of five Iranian officials in Argentina in the attack, thus "aggravating" the inquiry and granting the alleged bombers impunity.
Bonadio is requesting that Argentina's Congress wave Fernandez's parliamentary immunity so that she can be arrested. The former president was sworn in as a Congress member on Nov. 29 after winning the October elections.
Current and former Latin American leaders, as well as left organizations across the continent, are also coming out in strong condemnation of Bonadio's decision.
The Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), a regional body comprised of more than 60 progressive parties in Latin America, said the actions against Fernandez are part and parcel of "the judicialization of politics."
"The absurd argument to persecute Fernandez judicially shows that the conservative sectors are willing to resort to any manipulation or stunt to disqualify progressive leaders and forces in office or in the opposition," the group stated in a communique, according to Prensa Latina.
Leader of Argentine human rights organization Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, also fiercely opposed the charges against the former president, warning that "they will not leave her for a single minute... as anything can happen with a fascist government."
Bonafini also predicted that the country will erupt in massive protests over the coming weeks.
Earlier, Venezuela sent "a hug in solidarity to ex-president Cristina," said National Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez, describing the move as intended to undermine the sovereignty of Latin America.
Members of the Brazilian Workers' Party have also said they support Fernandez, who is "clearly being pursued by judge Claudio Bonadio." The Workers' Party affiliates say they are "concerned" about the "threat on the rule of law."
"This type of authoritarian behavior by the Mauricio Macri presidency causes fear among the political opposition, the attorney general, the press, social movements and unions," they said.
Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, echoing COPPPAL, said the arrest warrant represents a "judicialization of politics" that is occurring across the continent and that Fernandez' only crime was "having given justice and dignity."
Bonadio also had former Argentine government official Hector Timerman arrested, along with former Secretary General Carlos Zannini, who served under Fernandez.
During a press conference late Thursday, Fernandez said: "From a legal point of view, this is nonsense, an excess."
"These measures not only violate the rule of law, but seek to cause personal and political harm to opponents, their career, their ideas," Fernandez said. "It has nothing to do with justice and democracy."
Fernandez said the judge has "no cause" to arrest her and "Bonadio knows it, the government knows it, President Macri knows it, too.”
She said the arrests “further degrade the Argentine justice system and point to the government and President Macri as most responsible for a political and judicial organization persecuting the opposition."
Macri says he wants to strengthen the judiciary and make it more independent by reforming the Judicial Council, which appoints judges. Rodolfo Tailhade, a Judicial Council member said: "They are using the council to tame judges who dare to make rulings that reverse government decisions."
Protesters took to the streets Thursday night in support of Fernandez and to oppose Macri's austerity measures and overreach of presidential powers.