- Written by Vanessa Buchschlotter
- BBC News
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been given 24 hours to surrender his passport amid an ongoing investigation into the 2023 storming of Brazil's Congress by his supporters.
The police accuse him of leading a failed plot to stay in power after losing the elections to his leftist rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro says the operation is politically motivated.
Three of Bolsonaro's allies were arrested.
The head of his political party was also arrested.
They are suspected of planning to keep Bolsonaro in power after his election defeat in October 2022.
Police accuse them of spreading doubt about the electoral system, which has become a rallying cry for his supporters, who claim the election was stolen from Bolsonaro.
Police say this paves the way for a possible coup. But when he failed to gain the support of the armed forces, his frustrated supporters stormed Congress, the building housing the Supreme Court and the Presidential Palace on January 8, 2023.
Bolsonaro was in the United States when the attack on Congress occurred.
On Thursday, he denied any wrongdoing.
“I left the government more than a year ago and I still suffer from constant persecution,” Bolsonaro said when contacted by Brazilian newspaper Folha following police searches at dozens of properties.
“Forget about me. There is already someone else running the country,” he added.
The former leader's lawyer said his client would comply with the order to surrender his passport.
The former president returned to Brazil in March 2023 – two months after the storming of Congress – saying that he had nothing to fear, despite facing a number of investigations.
In June, he was banned from running for president for eight years for raising unfounded doubts about Brazil's electronic voting system.
But interest was greater in investigating the events of January 8, 2023.
Brazilian Federal Police provided only limited details about the operation they carried out on Thursday, but said it was targeting a “criminal organization involved in the coup attempt.”
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.
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