Authorities who were identified by the Federal Police (PF) as targets of illegal monitoring by the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) reacted to suspicions of espionage. In publications on official profiles, the names that were targeted by “spy software” called for rigor in the investigation and, if the suspicions were confirmed, called for the punishment of those involved in the “parallel Abin” case.
The espionage scheme with the Abin apparatus is investigated by the PF in Operations Last Mile and Close Surveillance. According to the investigations, the monitoring targeted authorities that broke with the administration of former president Jair Bolsonaro, ministers of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), senators who made up Covid’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) and even state governors. The information was released on Friday, 2, by the TV program Band Newspaper.
The list of monitored authorities ranges from former members of Bolsonaro’s first echelon to opposition parliamentarians, including political enemies of the former president. On social media, those mentioned reacted to the suspicions.
Opponents and members of Covid’s CPI
Randolfe Rodrigues (no party-AP), senator who was part of the opposition to Jair Bolsonaro’s government and Covid’s CPI, and is now leader of the Lula government in Congress, recalled that investigations are still ongoing, but related the use of Abin to monitor political enemies for a violation of the rights to privacy and secrecy. “Any signs of violations of such rights must be rigorously investigated and punished,” declared the senator in a post on social media, confirming a statement given to the television news program.
Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE), who was also part of Covid’s CPI, said he received the information with “indignation”. In addition to asking for the investigations to be continued, the senator suggested that any information collected by investigations involving parliamentarians should be handed over to the National Congress.
According to the senator, this would be an appropriate measure because clandestine espionage “is a crime, above all, against the exercise of democracy.” Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), president of the Senate, has already expressed himself in this regard. On Wednesday, Pacheco sent a request for information about the Abin investigation to the STF, requesting the names of congressmen cited as targets of espionage.
Parliamentarians who were allies of Bolsonaro, but broke with the former president’s administration, were also cited as targets of Abin’s parallel apparatus. These are the cases of senator Soraya Thronicke (Podemos-MS) and federal deputy Kim Kataguiri (União Brasil-SP). “I will go all the way,” Thronicke said on social media. “Those responsible for this crime must go to jail,” Kataguiri told Band Newspaper.
Jair Bolsonaro’s political enemies
João Doria (no party), former governor of São Paulo, was also mentioned among the names monitored by the parallel intelligence service. “My repulsion at this sordid and reprehensible behavior, not only in my case, but of all those who were being illegally spied on. The attitude transcends political issues and reaches the very essence of democracy”, points out the former governor in a note sent to the Estadão. Doria, who was elected to Palácio dos Bandeirantes supporting Bolsonaro in 2018, became an opponent of the government in the following years, especially during the period of the covid-19 pandemic.
Even former members of Jair Bolsonaro’s government who broke with the former head of the federal Executive were targets of the illegal espionage scheme, according to the investigation. This is the case of Abraham Weintraub, former Minister of Education. “I’m not afraid of what they might find,” Weintraub said, saying he was “not surprised” by the suspected illegal monitoring.
The list of targets for illegal espionage also involves other former Bolsonaro ministers: Anderson Torres (Justice and Public Security), Flávia Arruda (Government Secretariat) and Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Government Secretariat). Former allies of Bolsonaro, Santos Cruz and Weintraub broke with the former head of the Executive after leaving their positions.
The “parallel Abin” also monitored senators Omar Aziz (PSD-AM) and Renan Calheiros (MDB-AL), who made up the board of directors of the collegiate at Covid’s CPI together with Randolfe Rodrigues.
Other senators from the collegiate monitored would have been Rogério Carvalho (PT-SE), Otto Alencar (PSD-BA), Humberto Costa (PT-PI) and Alessandro Vieira (MDB-SE). Outside the CPI, former senator and current Minister of Planning, Simone Tebet (MDB) is also on the list.
Abin also monitored former deputy Alexandre Frota (no party-SP), who was an ally of Bolsonaro but left during the former president’s term. Another target was the former president of the Chamber, Rodrigo Maia (PSDB-RJ).
The list also includes the former governor of Ceará and current Minister of Education, Camilo Santana, as well as STF ministers Luís Roberto Barroso, Alexandre de Moraes and Gilmar Mendes.
Investigations target ‘spy software’
Investigations into Abin’s alleged rigging have been taking place since October 2023, with the launch of Operation Last Mile. The name of this investigation satirizes a piece of software that is still a key part of the investigation, FirstMile. Developed by an Israeli company, the program allows the user, among other functions, to monitor the geolocation of cell phones in real time.
Researchers already know that FirstMile was used 60 thousand times by Abin between 2019 and 2023, but other programs have entered the researchers’ radar. Furthermore, researchers are also aware that more than half of Abin’s access to FirstMile occurred in 2020, the year of municipal elections.
“The group would have created a parallel structure at Abin and used tools and services from that State intelligence agency for illicit actions, producing information for political and media use, to obtain personal benefits and even to interfere in Federal Police investigations” , says a statement from the PF about the investigations.