BRASILIA: Brazil's Supreme Court lashed out Saturday after a report that President Michel Temer had ordered the country's intelligence services to dig up dirt on the judge overseeing his corruption case.
The report in Veja magazine on Friday quoted an unnamed aide to Temer saying that the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, known as Abin, had been tasked with finding compromising material on Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin.
Although the presidential palace quickly issued a statement denying the report, the Supreme Court came out with an unusually strongly worded statement of its own Saturday to denounce any pressure on its judges.
"It is inadmissable to commit a very serious crime against the Federal Supreme Court, against democracy and against liberty," said the statement signed by Chief Justice Carmen Lucia.
Describing pressure against judges as "the practice of a dictatorship," Lucia said the court "vehemently rejects spurious, unconstitutional and immoral snooping against any citizen and even more so against one of its members -- even more so if aimed at embarrassing a judge."
The statement warned of "legal, political and institutional consequences" if the reported operation were "proven at any time."
The Supreme Court is overseeing scores of corruption cases against Brazilian politicians, including ministers, senators and lower house deputies, whose cases are not handled by lower courts.
The slew of graft cases have been unleashed by investigators with the "Car Wash" operation against embezzlement and bribery at the top levels of politics and business. Fachin is the head judge for "Car Wash" matters.
Now it's war
Temer himself is now under investigation for bribe taking and obstruction of justice related to the array of interlocking "Car Wash" corruption scandals.
In a separate case Friday, Temer was narrowly exonerated by the seven judges on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal who had been examining whether his 2014 election was marred by illegal campaign donations.
Temer denies all the charges against him, but now that the election controversy has been put aside he is believed to be gearing up for an intensified fight with prosecutors over the corruption allegations.
Veja, which specializes in political scoops, published its story on the alleged use of the intelligence agency against Justice Fachin with a cover showing Temer dressed as a soldier and the headline: "Now it's war."
The presidential palace quickly responded, saying Temer "never deployed (Abin) to investigate the life of Supreme Court Minister Edson Fachin, as was reported."
"The government does not use the public machinery against Brazilian citizens, much less in any sort of action that would not respect the strict rules of the law."
The statement also insisted on the Temer government's support for "Car Wash."