Bolsonaro sought refuge at Hungarian embassy to escape justice

Bolsonaro sought refuge at Hungarian embassy to escape justice
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spent two days at the Hungarian embassy. / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest March 26, 2024

The New York Times showed surveillance video of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro entering the Hungarian embassy in Brazil in February 2022, days after police confiscated his passport after the election defeat, local media reported on March 26.

The video shows Bolsonaro seeking refuge between February 12 and 14 at the Hungarian Embassy in Brasilia, four days after the federal police launched an operation against him and his inner circle for attempting a coup against the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro, who is the subject of several investigations, used his friendship with Hungarian radical rightwing prime minister Viktor Orban to circumvent the Brazilian justice system as he faces criminal charges at home, the New York Times reported.

On February 8, the Hungarian leader on social media called Bolsonaro an "honest patriot", encouraging him to "continue the fight".

Embassy personnel confirmed to the newspaper, on condition of anonymity, that the former prime minister, who faces charges of embezzlement, falsification of COVID-19 vaccination certificates, and an attempted coup in 2022, was at the embassy for two days.

Last year, a Brazilian court ruled that Bolsonaro was ineligible for political office until 2030 for spreading electoral misinformation during the 2022 election.

After the news, the Brazilian Supreme Court gave Bolsonaro a 48-hour deadline to explain his stay at the diplomatic mission. The foreign ministry is to summon the Hungarian ambassador, Miklos Halmai.

"Is there any crime in sleeping at the embassy, and talking to the ambassador? Stop persecuting," Bolsonaro told journalists in Sao Paulo after attending a political promotion event for his wife.

It is not the first time Orban has meddled in the affairs of foreign countries and sought to help his allies escape justice.

North Macedonia has made multiple attempts to secure the extradition of former premier Nikola Gruevski from Hungary, where he received political asylum. The politician was first convicted in November 2018 for purchasing a luxury Mercedes using state funds. He was sentenced to two years in prison but fled to Hungary with the alleged help of the Hungarian government before he could be detained.