Brazil’s former intelligence boss investigated in probe of alleged political spying, official says

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s federal police are investigating the former head of the nation’s intelligence agency as part of a probe into alleged spying on political opponents under former President Jair Bolsonaro, according to an officer with knowledge of the operations.

The former intelligence chief, Alexandre Ramagem, was among those targeted by the 21 search warrants police carried out Thursday morning, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to comment publicly on the case.

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Ramagem did not comment publicly on the search warrant.

Police are investigating an “organized crime” group within the intelligence service, known by its Portuguese acronym ABIN, according to a police statement. The group “used tools and services of the state intelligence agency for illicit actions, producing information for political and media use, to obtain personal benefits and interfere with police investigations,” it said.

Bolsonaro appointed Ramagem to lead ABIN in May 2019. The right-wing leader had previously appointed him to be federal police chief, but quickly yielded to growing criticism around the nomination due to the fact that Ramagem was widely seen as too close to the president’s family.

 

Members of Brazil’s intelligence agency are suspected of using spy technology to track cellphones without judicial authorization, according to police. In October, the force arrested two people and carried out 25 search warrants.

Ramagem is now a federal lawmaker and pre-candidate for mayor in Rio de Janeiro, with elections slated for October. Local paper O Globo reported that Bolsonaro’s son, Carlos, will coordinate Ramagem’s social media during his campaign.

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