11 Jun 2019
Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro and federal prosecutors scrambled to respond on Monday to reports published by news website The Intercept based on what it said were leaked messages from a corruption probe.
The Intercept said it was only beginning to report on an “enormous trove” of leaked messages between Moro and prosecutors on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, that it had received from an anonymous source. It said the messages raise serious questions about the impartiality of Moro, a former judge who sent ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison.
The excerpts, released on Sunday, included exchanges in which Moro made suggestions to prosecutors about the focus, pace and sequence of investigations.
Attorneys for Lula, a leftist icon who remains one of the most influential opposition figures in Brazil, have been petitioning the Supreme Court for his release and seized on the reports to argue that his sentence should be overturned.
Moro, speaking at an event in Brasilia on Monday, argued that the messages published so far showed no improper conduct on his part.
The team of federal prosecutors cited in the messages said they had acted properly throughout the five-year investigation known as “Car Wash,” which uncovered billions of dollars of political bribery. They said in written statements that they had been targeted by a hacker, adding that they were concerned about messages being taken out of context and possibly forged.
Moro, who left his role as the most prominent judge in the Car Wash probe to become justice minister in January, also criticized The Intercept for not naming “the person responsible for the criminal invasion of the prosecutors’ cell phones.”
“Regarding the content of the messages citing me, there is no sign of any abnormality or directing of actions as a magistrate, despite them being taken out of context,” he said in a statement.
By Brad Brooks, Reuters, 10 June 2019
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