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Bernie Sanders Says Former Brazilian President Lula Should Be Freed After Leaked Documents Expose 'Politicized Prosecution'

"I stand with political and social leaders across the globe who are calling on Brazil's judiciary to release Lula and annul his conviction."

Documents leaked to The Intercept add more weight to suspicions former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's imprisonment was a politically motivated effort to prevent him from returning to power. (Photo: Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called on Brazilian authorities to immediately release former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from prison and drop all charges after an enormous trove of leaked documents confirmed suspicions that the case against Lula was a politically motivated effort to prevent him from winning the 2018 election.

"It is clearer than ever that Lula da Silva was imprisoned in a politicized prosecution that denied him a fair trial and due process."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"Today, it is clearer than ever that Lula da Silva was imprisoned in a politicized prosecution that denied him a fair trial and due process," Sanders told The Intercept, which reported on the explosive documents on Sunday after obtaining them from an anonymous source.

"During his presidency, Lula oversaw huge reductions in poverty and remains Brazil's most popular politician," added Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate. "I stand with political and social leaders across the globe who are calling on Brazil's judiciary to release Lula and annul his conviction."

Sanders's comments came just two days after The Intercept published several stories on the massive trove of documents, which included conversations showing that Judge Sérgio Moro—who is now serving as justice minister under Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro—worked with prosecutors to craft the corruption case against Lula that landed him in prison in 2018.

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

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the first U.S. lawmaker to speak out in response to the leaked documents, told The Intercept in a statement earlier Tuesday that the trove of documents "confirms what we knew all along—that Moro was a bad actor and part of a larger conspiracy to send Lula to jail."

Khanna said the Trump administration—which has a friendly relationship with Bolsonaro—should back a full investigation into the case that imprisoned Lula and paved the way for Bolsonaro's rise to power.

"While [it's] not for America to make a factual judgement on Lula's innocence, this reporting shows Moro was not impartial and coordinated with the prosecutors," added Khanna. "This violates all judicial norms and ethics. I hope the Trump administration supports a full investigation into this matter given Lula is still in jail and Moro is Bolsonaro's justice minister."

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