Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during a protest on June 10, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

'Truth Will Prevail,' Says Lula, After Leaked Documents Suggest He Was Imprisoned to Prevent Victory in Brazil's Presidential Election

"There is no question the procedures against former President Lula are tainted by extremely serious issues when it comes to violations of fundamental guarantees and denial of one's rights."

Jake Johnson

A massive trove of documents leaked to The Intercept added weight to longstanding allegations that the judge and team of prosecutors behind the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were motivated by a desire to prevent Lula and his party from winning the country's 2018 elections.

"Lula should be released immediately and the courts should recognize once and for all that he has not committed any crime." 
—Legal team of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

According to The Intercept, the documents provide significant evidence that Sérgio Moro—the judge who found Lula guilty—unlawfully conspired with prosecutors to construct the corruption case against the former Brazilian president, who polled as the frontrunner in the 2018 presidential election even while he was imprisoned.

"Overall, the documents depict a task force of prosecutors seemingly intent on exploiting its legal powers for blatantly political ends," The Intercept reported Sunday, "led by its goal of preventing a return to power of the Workers' Party generally, and Lula specifically."

Lula's imprisonment in 2018 on corruption charges cleared the way for the rapid ascent and victory of Brazil's current far-right president Jair Bolsonaro over Fernando Haddad, who replaced Lula as the presidential candidate for the Workers' Party (PT).

"[M]any of these documents show improper and unethical plotting... on how to best structure the corruption case against Lula—although Moro was legally required to judge the case as a neutral arbiter," The Intercept reported. "Other documents include private admissions among the prosecutors that the evidence proving Lula's guilt was lacking."

Following his victory in the presidential election, Bolsonaro appointed Moro as justice minister—a move The Intercept said created "the obvious perception (real or not) of a quid pro quo."

The Intercept highlighted a particularly egregious example of the team of prosecutors coordinating to ensure Lula's party would not prevail in the 2018 election after the former president was imprisoned and barred from running:

One glaring example occurred 10 days before the first round of presidential voting last year, when a Supreme Court justice granted a petition from the country's largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, to interview Lula, who was in prison on corruption charges...

Immediately upon learning of that decision on September 28, 2018, the team of prosecutors who handled Lula's corruption case—who spent years vehemently denying that they were driven by political motives of any kind—began discussing in a private Telegram chat group how to block, subvert, or undermine the Supreme Court decision. This was based on their expressed fear that the decision would help the PT—Lula's party—win the election. Based on their stated desire to prevent the PT's return to power, they spent hours debating strategies to prevent or dilute the political impact of Lula's interview.

In response to the leaked documents, Lula's legal team demanded that the former president be released from prison "immediately."

"There is no question the procedures against former President Lula are tainted by extremely serious issues when it comes to violations of fundamental guarantees and denial of one's rights," Lula's lawyers said in a statement. "Lula should be released immediately and the courts should recognize once and for all that he has not committed any crime."

Lula's official Twitter account responded to The Intercept's reporting with a simple message:

The trove of documents, provided to The Intercept by an anonymous source, immediately provoked national controversy in Brazil.

"It's like stopping the other team from playing. Its like they decided to play the ball alone," Carlos Melo, a professor of political science at the São Paulo business school Insper, told The Guardian in response to the documents. "A basic principle of law is that those who accuse do not judge."

The prosecutors implicated by the documents issued a statement saying they are the victim of a "criminal act" by a hacker, but did not dispute the authenticity of the documents.

The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald, whose byline appeared on the three stories about the leaks published Sunday, called the documents "one of the largest and most important archives of leaked material in years."

"In sum," Greenwald tweeted, "the process that imprisoned Lula and rendered him ineligible to run—paving the way for Bolsonaro's ascension to power—was fueled by wrongdoing, politicized abuse of power, and deceit: all of which will now be revealed due to this massive leaked archive of their secrets."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.
No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark. All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

 

 

'Horrific': 50 Migrants Found Dead in Abandoned Trailer Truck in Texas

"We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening," said Rep. Chuy García. "People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life."

Jake Johnson ·


Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo