BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s Federal Police searched former President Jair Bolsonaro’s residence and seized his cellphone Wednesday in what they stated was an investigation into alleged falsification of COVID-19 vaccine playing cards. A number of different places additionally have been searched and a half dozen folks confronted arrest, police stated.

The previous president confirmed the search of his residence whereas talking with reporters, as did his spouse, Michelle, on her Instagram account.

A police official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the individual wasn’t licensed to talk publicly, stated Bolsonaro could be questioned at Federal Police headquarters and confirmed that certainly one of his closest allies, Mauro Cid, was arrested.

Requested in regards to the search of Bolsonaro’s residence, the Federal Police’s press workplace supplied an announcement saying officers have been finishing up 16 searches and 6 arrests in Rio de Janeiro associated to the introduction of fraudulent knowledge associated to the COVID-19 vaccine into the nation’s well being system. The assertion did not title Bolsonaro or Cid.

Native media reported that the vaccine playing cards of Bolsonaro, his advisers and his members of the family have been altered. The police assertion stated the investigation targeted on playing cards altered with a purpose to adjust to U.S. vaccine necessities to enter the nation.

“There was no adulteration on my half, it didn’t occur,” Bolsonaro informed reporters after the search. “I didn’t take the vaccine, interval. I by no means denied that.”

In an interview for Jovem Pan tv, Bolsonaro stated his vaccination data weren’t required for any of his journeys to the U.S.

“The way in which heads of state are handled is completely different than for the widespread citizen. All the pieces is organized forward of time, and in my travels to the USA, I used to be not at any time required to have a vaccination card,” Bolsonaro stated.

Bolsonaro visited the U.S. a minimum of thrice after it started usually requiring in November 2021 that non-citizens be totally vaccinated to enter. He went in June 2022 for the Summit of the Americas, September 2022 for the U.N. Common Meeting and final December after he left workplace for a keep in Florida.

The investigation raises questions on whether or not falsified vaccine data may need been included in documentation for any members of the previous president’s entourage throughout these journeys.

Through the pandemic, Bolsonaro spent months sowing doubt in regards to the efficacy of the vaccine and defiantly refusing to get a shot. In September 2021, that had prompted doubt about whether or not he would have the ability to attend the U.N.’s Common Meeting in New York, although he did attend.

The search provides to Bolsonaro’s mounting authorized complications. Federal Police have questioned him at their Brasilia headquarters twice prior to now month associated to separate investigations — first, about three units of diamond jewlery he obtained from Saudi Arabia and, second, relating to his potential function in sparking the Jan. 8 rebellion by his supporters within the capital.

Bolsonaro can also be the topic of a number of investigations by Brazil’s electoral courtroom into his actions through the presidential election marketing campaign, significantly his unsubstantiated claims that the nation’s digital voting system is vulnerable to fraud. These threaten to strip him of his political rights and render him unable to run for workplace in upcoming elections.

Individually, Bolsonaro and his allies are additionally dealing with a sprawling Supreme Court docket-led investigation relating to the unfold of alleged falsehoods and disinformation in Brazil, and a federal police investigation for the alleged genocide of the Indigenous Yanomami folks within the Amazon rainforest by encouraging unlawful miners to invade their territory and thereby endangering their lives.

The previous president has denied any wrongdoing in the entire numerous instances beneath investigation.

The police assertion stated that the insertion of false COVID-19 knowledge occurred between November 2021 and December 2022, and enabled the folks whose vaccine playing cards have been altered to adjust to the U.S. vaccine requirement to enter the nation.

Bolsonaro’s former press adviser and lawyer Fabio Wajngarten confirmed to reporters on the Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia that navy police officer and Bolsonaro’s adviser Max Guilherme was arrested and had already given his assertion to investigators.

Cid, a military lieutenant colonel who has been Bolsonaro’s right-hand man, reportedly had not but talked with investigators.

Cid reportedly is a key determine within the scandal over jewels given to Bolsonaro. The previous president is accused of both failing to declare the jewels as official items to the Brazilian presidency or attempting to carry them into the nation as personal items with out paying required taxes.

One of many units was seized at Sao Paulo airport, and stories have stated Cid tried to intervene with authorities there in efforts to retrieve them on Bolsonaro’s behalf.

The investigation into the coronavirus paperwork includes alterations associated to “ideological agendas” and meant to “maintain the discourse geared toward attacking the vaccine in opposition to COVID-19,” the police assertion stated.

For months, Bolsonaro insisted that the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine was a therapy for COVID-19, regardless of a scarcity of strong medical proof. At one level, he warned Brazilians that there could be no authorized recourse in opposition to Pfizer for anybody struggling irreversiable uncomfortable side effects. He additionally linked the vaccine to AIDS — an assertion rejected by docs and scientists — prompting a justice of Brazil’s prime courtroom to order his feedback be investigated.

Brazil’s pandemic demise toll was the second-highest on the earth, although it ranks about twentieth in per capita deaths. A congressional investigation decided Bolsonaro needs to be indicted for bungling the nation’s COVID-19 response, together with his assist for unproven therapies.

Bolsonaro just lately returned to Brazil after a number of months outdoors Orlando, the place he largely stored a low profile other than a couple of talking engagements. Over the weekend, as he seeks to reclaim his place of affect in Brazil, he traveled to the inside of Sao Paulo state and appeared at an enormous agriculture present.

Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro.