Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has denied harassing whales

(CNN) — Police in Brazil are investigating former President Jair Bolsonaro over allegations of harassing a humpback whale.

Bolsonaro said on Wednesday he admitted to federal police that he came close to a whale while traveling in a boat off the northern coast of Sao Paulo state last June. But he denied harassing the animal.

“No one can understand why I am being investigated by the federal police for harassing whales,” Bolsonaro told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil.

Police began investigating the encounter after video footage surfaced on social media showing a boat, with its engine still running, coming within 15 meters of a humpback whale. Investigators suspect that Bolsonaro was traveling in the vehicle at the time.

But Bolsonaro said he had given more space to the animal he was approaching.

“I know the law exists, it must be followed, but it doesn’t match what happened to me. I admit I was 20 or 30 meters away from the whale. I didn’t harass it in any way. It’s very obvious to the police that I made it up,” he said.

Bolsonaro spoke to CNN Brazil at a hospital in Sao Paulo, where he was to undergo tests related to injuries he sustained when he was stabbed during a campaign rally in 2018.

He claimed that the investigation into the whale encounter was “political” and part of a “continued harassment” against him.

The far-right politician has faced mounting legal challenges, including a police investigation into an alleged coup attempt to keep him in power after losing the 2022 presidential election.

Last year, the country’s highest electoral court banned Bolsonaro from running for political office until 2030 for abuse of power and abuse of public media during the 2022 election campaign.

After Bolsonaro lost the election to leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his supporters rioted in Brasília on January 8, 2023, and vandalized government buildings. Bolsonaro has denied inciting the violent attacks in the capital.

(tag to translate) Jair Bolsonaro

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