Jair Bolsonaro
Jair BolsonaroReuters

Brazil’s Supreme Court has denied a request by former president Jair Bolsonaro’s lawyers that his passport be returned to him so that he can travel to Israel, The Associated Press reported, citing to an official document released late on Friday.

Bolsonaro’s lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited Bolsonaro to an event in May, and requested the Supreme Court to restore his passport.

“It is absolutely premature to remove the restriction imposed on the investigated person,” Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes wrote in his decision, which was in line with a recommendation from the prosecutor general’s office cited by Moraes.

Bolsonaro’s passport was taken to prevent him from leaving the country given “the danger to the development of criminal investigations and the possible application of criminal law,” the prosecutor general’s office said earlier in its opinion.

Federal Police seized Bolsonaro’s passport in February during a raid related to an investigation into whether he and top aides plotted to ignore the 2022 election results and stage an uprising to keep Bolsonaro in power.

Prosecutors have blamed Bolsonaro's statements against the country's voting system for a violent invasion of the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court in January of 2023 by supporters angry about Bolsonaro’s electoral loss to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In June of that year, a Brazilian court barred Bolsonaro from holding public office for eight years.

In his petition to the Supreme Court for authorization to travel to Israel from May 12 to 18, Bolsonaro’s lawyers had said the proposed trip would not have jeopardized the ongoing legal processes he faces, as he had scheduled appointments after the planned date of return.

As President of Brazil, Bolsonaro was a supporter of Israel and visited the country in March of 2019.

Da Silva, in contrast, has criticized Israel and caused an uproar last month after he compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler against Jews during World War II.

Days after da Silva’s remarks, a large rally took place in São Paulo in support of Bolsonaro, during which Brazilian and Israeli flags were flown side by side, in a show of solidarity with Israel.