Brazil Supreme Court Justice Moraes opens criminal inquiry into Elon Musk, demands X comply with court order News
Kim Shiflett, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Brazil Supreme Court Justice Moraes opens criminal inquiry into Elon Musk, demands X comply with court order

Brazil Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes opened a criminal inquiry on Sunday into X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk for possible obstruction of justice and incitement after the tech magnate defied a previous Supreme Court (STF) order to block access to undisclosed accounts. Moraes’s decision comes amid an ongoing disinformation inquiry and an STF investigation into whether former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attempted to incite a coup d’etat following his loss in the country’s 2022 presidential elections.

Moraes alleged that anti-democratic actors used social media platforms and private messaging services to undermine Brazil’s democracy. He added that social media administrators could be found criminally liable if they incited or participated in anti-democratic conduct.

The justice claimed that Musk’s decision to lift the court-ordered restrictions on the affected X accounts instigated  “obstruction of justice” as part of a “disinformation campaign.” In response, Moraes ordered the inclusion of Musk in the existing disinformation inquiry and a new criminal inquiry. He also barred X from disobeying any court orders and ruled that the company would be fined R$ 100,000.00 daily per account if any proscribed profile remains unblocked.

Musk has been harshly critical of the restrictions, deriding them as “the most draconian demands of any country on Earth.” The X owner has also called for Moraes’s impeachment, reiterating claims that the justice’s order is illegal under Brazil’s Marco Civil da Internet and Federal Constitution.

Brazil’s Federal Police has been investigating the role of antidemocratic actors in spreading disinformation in the country since 2021. The STF has also been probing the events leading up to the January 8, 2023 storming of the Brazillian Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential office buildings by Bolsonaro supporters spurred on by the ex-president’s claims of fraud, which occurred a week after the incumbent president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated.