Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro sought to hack into voter machines, hacker testifies

By Sofia Cox, Alessandra Castelli, Michael Rios and Julia Vargas Jones, CNN

CNN  —  A Brazilian hacker said Thursday that former President Jair Bolsonaro asked him if he could hack into voting machines, according to his testimony to a congressional inquiry set up to investigate Brazil’s election results and the storming of governmental buildings on January 8, 2023.

Walter Delgatti Neto’s told the Joint Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPMI) that during an August 2022 meeting with Bolsonaro, the former president offered to pardon the hacker if he suffered any legal consequences.

Delgatti said Bolsonaro told him to “rest assured that if by chance someone arrests you, I will have the judge arrested,” and that the hacker would “receive a pardon if the arrest was for actions related to the electronic voting machine.”

In the hearing, Delgatti explained to committee members that the idea was for him to build a fake code for voting machines that would allow for a vote intended for one candidate to go to another candidate, as a way to “expose the fragility” of the voting machines.

The plan did not move forward because Delgatti said the source code for the Brazilian electoral system is physically located “in a vault room that doesn’t have internet access,” and that Delgatti wouldn’t be able to access it.

Delgatti was detained in a Federal Police operation earlier this month for breaking into the judiciary system.

Bolsonaro’s defense team denied allegations of wiretapping or illegal activity against any political entity in Brazil following Delgatti’s testimony.

“NEVER, EVER, has there been a wiretap, or any illegal or non-republican activity, against any political entity in Brazil by the President’s primary circle,” Fabio Wajngarten, Bolsonaro’s defense lawyer, said on Thursday.

Wajngarten also said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Delgatti was lying in his testimony when he claimed to have met with Bolsonaro for an hour and a half.

“I don’t know anyone who had an individual meeting with the president that last an hour and a half. I doubt it. Lie and lie and lie,” said Wajngarten.

The testimony comes after Brazil’s highest electoral court barred Bolsonaro from running for political office until 2030, after finding him guilty of abusing his power and misusing public media during last year’s election campaign. Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing.

Several cases have been brought against the former president since he left office.

CPMI was set up in the aftermath of the January 8 riots, which saw hundreds of protesters break into Brazil’s Congress building, Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in protest against the election results, which handed the presidency to current leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

CNN’s Tara John contributed to this report.

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