Bolsonaro’s son is investigated for involvement in illegal spying scandal

By January 31, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – The son of former president Jair Bolsonaro and current Rio de Janeiro Councilman, Carlos Bolsonaro, is being investigated by the Federal Police for his alleged involvement in the illegal spying scandal at the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) during his father’s term as president. 

In recent days, Brazilian police alleged that ABIN illegally spied on politicians, journalists, judges, activists and Bolsonaro’s political opponents. Last week, police announced they were investigating former ABIN Director Alexandre Ramagem, and on Tuesday, his deputy spy chief, Alessandro Moretti, was fired in relation to the scandal. 

On Monday, police carried out searches at addresses linked to the younger Bolsonaro, including his office at the Rio de Janeiro City Council. 

Four other people allegedly linked to Bolsonaro’s son were also targeted in the operation. Police officers reportedly seized documents, cell phones and notebooks, including a computer that belonged to ABIN.

Read more: Brazil’s former intelligence chief under investigation for alleged spying on opposition, judges, journalists

Investigators allege that Carlos Bolsonaro is one of the principal beneficiaries of the information obtained by ABIN through the illegal spying. Police suspect that Carlos Bolsonaro used his close advisors as go-betweens to ask ABIN for information. 

Police say they’ve obtained messages from Carlos Bolsonaro’s advisor to the then-director of ABIN, Alexandre Ramagem. In the messages, the advisor allegedly requested data and privileged information about ongoing investigations against Jair Bolsonaro and his sons.

Carlos Bolsonaro arrives by car at the Federal Police headquarters to give a statement. Image courtesy of Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil

Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who authorized the search of Carlos Bolsonaro’s addresses, said that the evidence obtained so far indicates the existence of a “criminal organization” within ABIN, which used illegal methods to obtain information on Bolsonaro’s opponents. 

According to Judge Moraes, the criminal organization “would also be responsible for the distortion of ABIN and the First Mile tool,” an Israeli spy software used to monitor the victims of the illegal espionage. 

Carlos Bolsonaro’s lawyers said that they haven’t had access to the investigation files and that they will speak out as soon as they become aware of all the accusations. The lawyers also said that Carlos Bolsonaro “has no connection with ABIN and did not request or receive any type of information and data from third parties.”

Who is Carlos Bolsonaro?

Carlos Bolsonaro is the second eldest son of former president Jair Bolsonaro and seems to be the closest personally to his father. 

Carlos managed his father’s social media and digital presence during his 2018 and 2022 presidential campaigns. 

Carlos Bolsonaro is the closest son of former president Jair Bolsonaro. Image courtesy of Alan Santos/PR

Carlos himself is a politician, currently serving his sixth term as a Rio de Janeiro city councilman. He was first elected as a councilor in 2000, at the age of 17 (when he took office in January 2001 he had just turned 18, the minimum age for the position).

He has been the target of other investigations as well. He was accused of organizing a scheme to disseminate fake news to attack Bolsonaro’s political opponents, which became known as the “hate office,” and he’s also been accused of embezzling salaries of advisors in his office.