Brazil Court Summons Bolsonaro on Electoral Crimes


Human Wrongs Watch

Brazil court summons far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro for electoral crimes, stemming from allegations that he created a fake news campaign.

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Bolsonaro discute violência contra mulheres na Câmara. | Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil | CC BY 3.0 br
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19 October 2018 (teleSUR)* – Jair Bolsonaro has five days to appear before the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and present his case, amid allegations of disseminating fake news. TSE Minister Jorge Mussi made the decision after an online petition — requesting Bolsonaro be disqualified in the race for the presidency in Brazil — was started.

RELATED: 

Bolsonaro-Linked Companies Fraudulently Pay Fake News War On PT  

Brazil’s TSE will rule Sunday on a request to bar far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro from political life for eight years due to electoral crimes, specifically the abuse of economic power and illegal use of social media.

Representatives of the Workers’ Party (PT), Brazil’s Communist Party (PCdoB), and the Republican Party of Social Order (PROS) — all members of the Happy People Again Coalition —  will have a hearing at the TSE Sunday to provide evidence on how groups of businessmen financed the production of fake news for the Bolsonaro campaign and its dissemination throughout social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp.

Originally, the hearing was scheduled for Friday at 12:00 p.m. but was moved to fit the schedules of some key participants.

“The document alleges that there are strong indications that mass mailing packages in WhatsApp were being purchased against the Workers’ Party, according to a report in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper,” the PT’s website states.

According to the coalition that supports PT candidate Fernando Haddad, “this demonstrates a clear practice of abuse of economic power to cause an imbalance in the elections —  as can be seen from the top ten lists of fake news in the first round of elections drawn up by the Lupa fact-checking agency. All fake news on the list benefited Jair Bolsonaro.”

These actions reveal three types of electoral crimes: donations by corporate entities, the use of fake profiles for electoral propaganda and the irregular purchase of users’ registrations.

ANALYSIS:
A Bolsonaro Win is The Militarization of Politics in Brazil

An online petition published Thursday is requesting that the TSE deny the eligibility of Bolsonaro’s candidacy based on Article 222 of Brazil’s electoral code, which states, “voting is also null and void when it is vitiated by falsehood, fraud, coercion.” The petition, which got over 160,000 signatures in one day, argues that false news spread by Bolsonaro’s campaign has created a “climate of intolerance and violence in our country.”

On Monday, Brazil’s Electoral Tribunal ordered Facebook to delete 38 accounts for disseminating verifiably false informationtargeting PT vice presidential candidate Manuela D’Avila.

The lawsuit asks for the search and seizure of documents at businessman Luciano Hang’s home and his company’s headquarters. Hang was linked to this scandal by a Folha de S. Paulo report. The coalition is also requesting the seizure of accounting records and access to financial and banking data of all companies allegedly involved in the illegal operation, including Quick Mobile, Yacows, Croc y SMS Market.

The suit, which also asks that the justice system demand that WhatsApp put in place a containment plan to avoid the dissemination of false information, seeks to stop a “tsunami of fake news” scheduled for next week, as Brazil enters the final days before the second round of votes, scheduled for Oct. 28.

This is not the only lawsuit in the elections. The Democratic Labour Party, whose candidate Ciro Gomes came in third place, is requesting the election be nullified due to illegalities related to the Bolsonaro campaign.

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