Conservative Brazilians praise Elon Musk at rally supporting former President Bolsonaro

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Conservative Brazilians heaped praise on Sunday Elon Musk At a rally in support of the far-right former president Jair Bolsonarowhose legal troubles are mounting alongside a feud between the billionaire entrepreneur and South America’s highest court.

“Brazil, thank you Elon Musk,” read a giant sign in English at a rally along Copacabana Beach in the seaside city of Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of Bolsonaro’s most ardent supporters attended.

Mr. Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, Target of ongoing investigation Issues surrounding the spread of fake news by Bolsonaro supporters. Musk said social platform X will not comply with a high court judge’s order to remove specific accounts accused of spreading misinformation.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX who took over Twitter (now known as X) at the end of 2022, accused Judge Alexandre de Moraes of suppressing free speech and violating Brazil’s constitution. He noted on X that users may try to circumvent the social media platform’s shutdown by using VPNs or virtual private networks.

The move prompted De Moraes to add Musk to an ongoing investigation into so-called digital militias and launch a new investigation into obstruction, incitement and criminal conspiracy.

Several speakers at Sunday’s rally praised Musk.

“What we see here are people who love freedom, who will not give up, who will not kneel to a dictator, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom,” pro-Bolsonaro lawmaker Gustavo Geyer said.

The former president praised Mr. Musk for showing “courage” in the face of what he called censorship by Mr. de Moraes.

“He is someone who really protects true freedom for all of us,” Bolsonaro said. Bolsonaro himself is under investigation for a number of crimes, ranging from aiding efforts to overturn the 2022 election results to plotting a coup against his leftist successor. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil is an important market for social media companies. According to market research group Emarketer, around 40 million Brazilians, about 18% of the population, visit X at least once a month.

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