Brazil’s Bolsonaro stayed 2 days in Hungarian embassy after passport seized

Were the Federal Police to obtain an arrest warrant for the former president, officers would not have jurisdiction to enter the Hungarian embassy because of diplomatic conventions restricting access.

Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro is surrounded by supporters after attending a campaign event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 16. Photo: AP

Bolsonaro’s lawyer Fabio Wajngarten said on social media that the ex-president spent two days housed in the Hungarian embassy “to maintain contact with officials of the friendly country” and “get updates on the political landscape of both nations”.

“Any other interpretations that go beyond the information provided here are clearly fictional, unrelated to the reality of the facts and are, in practice, just another piece of fake news,” Wajngarten wrote.

Speaking at his party’s headquarters in Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro told supporters he gets many calls from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss politics.

“To this day I have a relationship with some heads of state around the world,” Bolsonaro said. “If I had my passport, I would have travelled to Israel.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, and Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro attend the inauguration of Argentina’s President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 10. Photo: Reuters

The visit took place just days after federal police seized Bolsonaro’s Brazilian and Italian passports and raided the homes of his top aides as part of an investigation into whether they plotted to ignore 2022 election results and stage an uprising to keep the defeated leader in power.

Bolsonaro has denied wrongdoing regarding this investigation, and multiple others targeting him.

On Monday evening, Brazil’s foreign ministry summoned Hungary’s ambassador Miklos Halmai to explain why Bolsonaro was his guest at the embassy.
The Hungarian embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times said Bolsonaro’s lawyer had declined to comment on their report, but a Hungarian embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the plan to host the former president.

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Bolsonaro has good relations with fellow far-right leader Orban. Bolsonaro called Orban his “brother” during a 2022 visit to Hungary and the two met this year in Buenos Aires during the inauguration of Argentina’s new right-wing President Javier Milei.

Bolsonaro flew to the US in the final days of his term, in December 2022, just days before his supporters stormed the capital in a failed bid to oust President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from power. He remained in South Florida for three months.

Some of Bolsonaro’s political rivals seized on Monday’s news to call for his arrest, alleging that he once again is signalling plans to escape.

“These images just reinforce that Bolsonaro is a confessed fugitive,” Alexandre Padilha, Lula’s minister of institutional relations, told reporters in Brasilia, citing Bolsonaro’s stint in the US last year. “But what the courts and the Federal Police will do with these images [published by The New York Times] isn’t for me to say.”

Augusto de Arruda Botelho, a criminal lawyer who has been an outspoken critic of the former president, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that “Bolsonaro’s act of hiding in the embassy is a classic motive for decreeing preventive detention”.

“It is one of those situations used as an example in books and classrooms,” he added.

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Police seized Bolsonaro’s passport on February 8 and accused him of editing a draft decree to overturn the results of the 2022 election, pressuring military chiefs to join a coup attempt and plotting to jail a Supreme Court justice.

Last year a Brazilian court ruled that Bolsonaro is ineligible for political office until 2030 for spreading electoral misinformation during the 2022 election.

Two weeks ago, the former heads of Brazil’s army and air force confirmed that Bolsonaro had discussed the draft decree to prevent the handover of power after the vote.

On March 19 federal police also accused him of fraud on his vaccination records, opening the door to criminal charges.

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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