Brazil’s federal police said on Wednesday that President Jair Bolsonaro committed a felony by publicly disclosing data about an ongoing criminal investigation, but they would not propose arresting him because of his immunity while in office.
Due to his immunity from prosecution, the finding of the federal police that the president committed a crime is unlikely to bother Bolsonaro. However, it adds to mounting institutional tensions in Brazil ahead of this year’s presidential election, in which the far-right populist faces a difficult re-election campaign.
During a live video presentation on social media in August 2021, Bolsonaro made public the findings of an investigation into an alleged cyberattack against Brazil’s electoral court TSE, using the issue to call the country’s electoral process into doubt.
The federal police force In a report issued to the Supreme Court and seen by Reuters, detective Denisse Ribeiro stated that Bolsonaro was guilty for a violation of confidentiality “with the intention of circulating material known to be false, with devastating ramifications for the public administration.”
However, Ribeiro stated in the report that owing to Bolsonaro’s immunity, she could not propose that charges be brought against him.
The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Supreme Court will now send the federal police’s recommendations to the prosecutor general’s office, which will decide whether to seek to charge the president, investigate further, or shelve the case.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly made unfounded claims that Brazil’s electronic voting system was rigged during the 2018 presidential election. He says he should have been elected already in the first round of voting, but has presented no evidence of fraud.
In his August 2021 live broadcast, he raised questions about the safety of the electronic voting system used in Brazil since 1996 and then revealed details from the sealed inquiry.
Brazil’s solicitor general’s office, which would represent Bolsonaro in any eventual case, said in response to a Reuters request for comment that it would only respond to the federal police allegations if they were to end up in court.