Bolsonaro stayed at Hungarian embassy in Brasília for days after his passport was confiscated in February

March 26. 2024. – 07:43 AM



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Four days after the Brazilian authorities confiscated former President Jair Bolsonaro's passport, the politician went to the Hungarian embassy where he stayed for two days, the New York Times reports.

On February 8, 2024, Brazilian authorities arrested some of Bolsonaro's former aides on charges of plotting a coup following the politician's defeat in the 2022 elections. They simultaneously confiscated Bolsonaro's passport to prevent him from fleeing the country, as there are several different ongoing investigations against him. The most serious allegation is that Bolsonaro conspired with several of his senior ministers and aides to try and hold on to power following his election defeat.

The New York Times has obtained the Hungarian embassy's surveillance footage. According to these images, four days after the arrests, on February 12, the car of the former Brazilian president pulled up to the gates of the Hungarian embassy in Brasília. Bolsonaro was greeted in the courtyard by Ambassador Miklós Halmai. He was the one who opened the gate and even showed Bolsonaro where to park.

The embassy was almost completely empty at the time, with only Hungarians in the building as local staff were on leave. Bolsonaro got out of his car with what appeared to be two security guards, and Halmai led them into the building. For the next two hours, embassy staff kept going back and forth between the guest apartments in the building. They were busy carrying bedding, water and other items into the suites until about 11:30 a.m.

The NYT analyzed images from four different cameras over a three-day period. The images were also compared with satellite imagery, which showed the car carrying Bolsonaro parked next to the building until February 13. According to the footage, Bolsonaro left the Hungarian embassy on Wednesday afternoon, 14 February.

Bolsonaro and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán have had a close relationship for years. The two politicians even met at the inauguration of Argentine President Javier Milei in December 2023, where Orbán called the former Brazilian head of state a hero.

Bolsonaro most likely went to the Hungarian embassy because the law prohibits the local authorities from arresting him at a foreign embassy.

What exactly happened at the embassy?

Over the four days, the former head of state and his security team were allowed to walk freely around the embassy, but only the guards left the premises – for things like picking up pizza. There was a fourth man who appeared on the evening of 13 February. He was brought in by one of Bolsonaro's guards by car. The unidentified man entered Bolsonaro's suite with a bag and left after more than half an hour.

On 14 February, the Hungarian diplomats wrote to the Brazilian staff telling them not to come to work the following day. Without being provided with a reason, they were simply instructed to stay at home for the rest of the week.

That afternoon, Bolsonaro and two of his guards left their apartment carrying two backpacks, followed by Halmai. The trio got into the car they had arrived in and left, with the Hungarian ambassador waving to them. Two weeks after Bolsonaro left the embassy for unknown reasons, he held his previously planned rally in São Paulo. Independent observers estimate that 185 000 supporters attended the event.

An official at the Hungarian embassy, who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Bolsonaro had indeed stayed at the building and described the location of the premises to the paper. Bolsonaro declined to comment. The Hungarian embassy did not respond to the New York Time's inquiries.

According to the Guardian, the Hungarian ambassador has been summoned by the Brazilian Foreign Minister to explain why the former Brazilian President spent two days at the Hungarian embassy after having his passport taken away by the country's authorities.

We have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister's Office and the Brazilian Embassy in Hungary to find out whether Bolsonaro had indeed stayed at the Hungarian embassy; and if so, why he remained there for two days; and who it was that he received on the embassy premises. We also asked whether Halmai had indeed accompanied the former president on the embassy premises. We will update our article as soon as any of the above-mentioned offices respond.

In any case, in the weeks since his visit to the embassy, Bolsonaro's situation has only worsened. The country's Supreme Court has released documents according to which the heads of the Brazilian army and air force told police that Bolsonaro had planned to overturn the election results after losing the 2022 elections. The military leadership, however, dismissed the idea of a coup and warned the former president that he could be arrested if he tried to do that.

In March, Bolsonaro said he was not worried about being arrested. "I could be in another country, but I decided to come back here no matter what. I'm not afraid," he declared at a political event.

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