Bolsonaro Denies Wrongdoing After Police Raid in Covid Probe

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(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro denied wrongdoing after federal police searched his Brasilia home Wednesday morning in a case about alleged alteration of Covid-19 vaccination records.

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Police said in a statement that they are investigating allegations that false data was entered into public health systems and vaccination cards were changed. The statement did not name Bolsonaro, but his records are among those police suspect were altered in order to meet requirements to enter other countries, including the US, according to a person familiar with the investigation who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Six people, including two close Bolsonaro aides, were arrested as part of the probe, the person said.

Bolsonaro, who said throughout his presidency that he had not been immunized, told reporters that he is not vaccinated and had not altered records to show otherwise.

“I didn’t take the vaccine, it’s my personal decision,” he said from Brasilia. “There is no tampering on my part. I didn’t get the vaccine, period.”

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes authorized the seizure of Bolsonaro’s passport, ammunition, weapons, computers and mobile devices as part of the search, according to official documents unsealed later on Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Mauro Cid Barbosa, who acted as Bolsonaro’s personal secretary, and Max Guilherme Machado de Moura, his personal security guard and friend, were among those arrested, according to the person familiar with the case.

Bolsonaro, who made baseless claims about the risks of vaccine side effects throughout his presidency, is expected to provide testimony to police, the person said. Fabio Wajngarten, one of Bolsonaro’s attorneys, told reporters that he will appear before the police after the defense gets access to the case.

Bolsonaro’s phone was seized as part of the investigation. His wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, used a Twitter post to deny reports that her phone had also been taken, and Moraes’ order showed that he had rejected search and seizure requests related to the former first lady.

The police said in a statement that the falsified documents were meant to “circumvent the current health restrictions imposed by public authorities” in Brazil and the US. The alterations were made between November 2021 and December 2022, the police said. The investigation included 16 search warrants and six preventive arrest orders, according to police.

The unsealed documents included vaccine records that police suspect were altered. The records showed that Bolsonaro would have taken two shots in 2022 in Duque de Caixas, a city in the Rio de Janeiro state. But federal police said Bolsonaro was not present in the area on the first date on the document and spent only a short time in the city on the second date, without any indication that he visited a health facility, police said.

Read More: Bolsonaro Tells Police He Moved Beyond Election Before Riots

The probe is the latest source of legal scrutiny facing the former president since his March return from the US, where he spent three months in self-imposed exile following his October election defeat. He is also facing investigations into his potential links to Jan. 8 riots in Brasilia, his claims to foreign diplomats that Brazil’s election machines were vulnerable to fraud and $3 million of jewelry allegedly gifted to him by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Bolsonaro, who last week testified as part of the probe into the January insurrection attempt his supporters carried out in the capital, has denied wrongdoing in each of the various investigations he is facing.

--With assistance from Bruna Lessa.

(Updates with details from judicial order)

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