Brazilian police raided the home of former president Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday over allegations that he used forged COVID-19 records to travel to the United States.
The Supreme Court approved the raid on Bolsonaro’s home earlier in the day, saying the evidence against him was “plausible, logical, and robust.”
The former president’s cell phone and passport have been seized by police.
Bolsonaro traveled to the US at least four times during the pandemic and was highly skeptical of the vaccines.
“The authorities searched more than a dozen homes in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, arresting six people, including one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s closest aides and two of his security guards, who are suspected of tampering with a government vaccination database and issuing falsified records,” the New York Times reports. “The forged vaccine cards may have allowed Mr. Bolsonaro and his aides to sidestep U.S. travel restrictions put in place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.”
Bolsanaro is accused of using forged cards for himself, his 12-year-old daughter Laura, and other top aides that traveled with him.
The Times reports claims that police believe the vaccination records were forged between November 2021 and December 2022.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Bolsonaro said he has never claimed to be vaccinated and was never asked to show the records when traveling.
“At no time did I say that I took the vaccine, and I didn’t,” Bolsonaro said, explaining that it was a personal decision. He confirmed that his daughter was also not vaccinated.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Federal police in Brazil raided the home of the former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday, as part of an investigation into possible falsification of COVID-19 vaccine cards. At this point it sounds like a dumb excuse. pic.twitter.com/mx3W17GRt3
— D. Scott @eclipsethis2003 (@eclipsethis2003) May 4, 2023
“During my visits to the U.S., not at any moment was a vaccination card required,” he said. “So there was no fraud on my part.”
Bolsonaro has often been compared to former President Donald Trump for his right-wing policies and outspoken nature.
Bolsonaro will be ineligible to run in the next presidential election if convicted of a crime.
The Times reports, “Separately, Mr. Bolsonaro faces a series of investigations, including one for spreading election misinformation and for inspiring the Jan. 8 invasion of Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices. Brazil’s electoral court is expected to rule this month on one case in which Mr. Bolsonaro is accused of abusing his office when he criticized Brazil’s voting system in a speech to foreign diplomats ahead of last year’s election.”
“He is also the subject of several Supreme Court inquiries, including into his handling of the pandemic; accusations of spreading misinformation; and a leak of classified information when he discussed a hack of the country’s election agency to support his baseless claims that Brazil’s voting system is unsafe,” the report added.