Jair Bolsonaro hid in Hungarian Embassy for two days amid coup investigation: The New York Times

By March 26, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Former President Jair Bolsonaro hid for two days in Hungary’s Embassy in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, amid investigations into his alleged involvement in planning a coup following the 2022 election.

The New York Times had access to images and video from the embassy’s security cameras, which show Bolsonaro there between February 12 and 14. On February 8, the Federal Police carried out a major operation against Bolsonaro, former ministers, allies and members of the Army’s top brass on suspicion of involvement in the coup attempt. 

Read more: Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro targeted in police operation investigating coup attempt

At the time, the Supreme Court ordered Bolsonaro to surrender his passport and said he could not leave Brazil nor have contact with any of the individuals being investigated. Shortly after the operations, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán posted a message of support for Bolsonaro on social media. With similar political ideologies, the two have maintained a close relationship.

The New York Times videos show Bolsonaro accompanied by two security guards and being received by the Hungarian ambassador to Brazil, Miklós Halmai, and other staff members. The newspaper also compared the camera images with satellite images that show that the car in which Bolsonaro arrived at the scene was parked near the embassy on February 13.

A local employee also confirmed the plan to host Bolsonaro for two days. In the report published this Monday, the Times pointed out evidence that Bolsonaro tried to avoid a possible arrest, as he could not be arrested inside the embassy.

Read more: Brazil’s Bolsonaro remains silent during police questioning over coup plotting allegations

The former president’s defense denied this version. In a statement, the lawyers confirmed that Bolsonaro stayed at the embassy for two days, but that he was there to “maintain contact with authorities from the friendly country.” His defense also said that Bolsonaro spoke with Hungarian authorities “updating the political scenarios of the two nations.”

The Federal Police said that it is still too early to know whether Bolsonaro tried to escape possible arrest, but they will investigate the circumstances of his stay at the Hungarian Embassy.

Read more: Former Brazilian military leaders said Bolsonaro proposed military coup a month before January 8 attacks on Brazil’s government headquarters

Bolsonaro is being investigated for allegedly plotting a coup after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory in the October 2022 run-off elections. The police discovered a draft military intervention decree that was signed by the president to prevent Lula’s inauguration. 

Two former commanders of the Armed Forces reported meetings in which Bolsonaro presented the document and asked for the Army’s support for the coup. Bolsonaro has denied the allegations.

Bolsonaro hid in the Hungarian embassy, ​​as he has a close relationship with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán