RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s cell phones were hacked in a security attack, authorities reported on Thursday.
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security made the announcement, based on a report by the Federal Police.
Bolsano’s teams were targeted by four hackers, who were arrested on Tuesday, when they were accused of having intercepted the phones of the former and current Minister of Justice Sergio Moro and other authorities and prosecutors linked to the Lava Jato operation, according to the Federal Police.
“The Ministry of Justice and Public Security, for reasons of national security, was informed by the Federal Police that the cell phones used by the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, were targeted by the piracy group arrested Tuesday past (23),” the ministry said in a statement.
The suspects were arrested and on Wednesday the authorities confirmed their participation in the interception of phones belonging to Moro, and several prosecutors of Lava Jato, the largest anti-corruption operation in the history of Brazil.
Commissioner Joao Vianey Xavier Filho and expert Luiz Spricigo Junior, director of the National Institute of Criminology, said during a press conference that the hackers also cloned a social media account belonging to the head of Economy, Paulo Guedes.
They said in a statement that “there are strong indications” that the same group was responsible for an attempt to hack Guedes’s mobile, who on Tuesday had asked the Federal Police to investigate an attack on his phone.
Police investigations indicated that the actions of the four suspects – Walter Delgatti Neto, Gustavo Henrique Elias Santos, Suelen Priscilla de Oliveira and Danilo Cristiano Marques – may have reached up to 1,000 telephone numbers.
The authorities also investigated potential “sponsors” of hacking activities, according to Judge Vallisney de Souza Oliveira, of the Tenth Federal Court of Brasilia, who issued the arrest warrant.
The judge said that the financial movements of Gustavo Henrique Elias Santos and Suellen Priscila de Oliveira, which between April and June 2018 and March and May 2019 were 627,000 reais (around $166,445) are not compatible with the declared income of 5,000 reais ($1,327) a month.
Danilo Cristiano Marques and Walter Delgatti Neto ‘Vermelho’ were also arrested on Tuesday and confessed to participation in the theft of information from Moro’s mobiles, of the coordinating prosecutor of Lava Jato, Deltan Dallagnol, and of “hundreds” of solicitors, judges, commissioners and journalists.
Moro, who has been involved in a scandal over the leak of alleged conversations obtained by an anonymous hacker, who has questioned his acting as a judge, celebrated the actions of the authorities.
As coordinator of Lava Jato, Moro sent recognized businessmen and politicians from Brazil to jail, including former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
“People with a criminal record are the source of trust for those who disclosed the alleged messages obtained through a crime,” Moro said on Twitter.
The alleged conversations have been published by The Intercept Brasil portal, led by American journalist Glenn Greenwald, in association with some of the country’s leading newspapers.
The leaks led to Moro giving statements to the Chamber of Deputies and the Brazilian Senate and, on both occasions, said he has nothing to hide and strongly defended his performance.