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Suspected hackers targeted Brazil president’s phones: officials

Brazil’s justice ministry has informed President Jair Bolsonaro that hackers had targeted his mobile devices © AFP/File / EVARISTO SA

BRAZIL, Jul 26 – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s cell phones were allegedly targeted by a group of hackers who are also accused of breaching the devices of the investigators in a massive corruption probe, the justice ministry said Thursday.

Four people were arrested on Tuesday over the hacking of cell phones belonging to Justice Minister Sergio Moro and prosecutors in the so-called Car Wash investigation.

Moro has said the group was the source for “those who published alleged messages obtained illegally” — a reference to a trove of encrypted chats released by The Intercept investigative website in recent weeks.

The leaked messages show Moro, a former judge who spearheaded the Car Wash inquiry that turned him into a household name, collaborated with prosecutors to keep jailed leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva out of the 2018 presidential race.

Moro has denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign over the scandal, saying criminals had hacked the cell phones with the aim of overturning convictions resulting from the probe that has claimed the scalps of scores of high-profile figures, including Lula, since it began in 2014.

Bolsonaro has been informed that his mobile devices were targeted by the same suspected hackers, the justice ministry said in a statement.

It is not clear when the group targeted the devices or if they have been able to access any of Bolsonaro’s data.

“I’ve always been careful with strategic information,” Bolsonaro told reporters Thursday.

“These are not communicated by telephone, so I’m not worried.”

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Economy Minister Paulo Guedes was also the victim of the same hackers, police said Wednesday.

The Intercept has refused to reveal the identity of its source or how the chats from the Telegram app were accessed.

“Moro and his allies want to suppress the revelations … distract society’s focus and delegitimize serious and hard-hitting journalism,” The Intercept said in a statement Thursday.

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