Brazil’s federal police on Wednesday raided former President Jair Bolsonaro’s home in Brasilia as part of a probe into a group suspected of adding false vaccine data into the government’s COVID-19 database, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Two of Bolsonaro’s closest aides, Mauro Cid and Max Guilherme, have been arrested in the same operation, the sources added.
Federal police earlier in the day said in a statement they were serving 16 search and seizure warrants and six preventive arrest warrants in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro as part of the operation but did not disclose the names of those targeted.
A spokesman and a lawyer for Bolsonaro did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Police said the “false data” were allegedly added to the database between November 2021 and December 2022, when Bolsonaro was president, to alter immunization statuses of still unnamed people.
“As a result, they were able to issue vaccine certificates and use them to circumvent restrictions imposed by public authorities in Brazil and the United States,” police said, adding the group also had an “ideological reason” for doing so.
Bolsonaro while in office was a vocal skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines who vowed never to get the jab.