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Brazil fines Telegram for not suspending far-right congressman’s account

<i>Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Brazilian congressman Nikolas Ferreira speaks during an event for evangelicals at a church in Belo Horizonte
AFP via Getty Images
Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images
Brazilian congressman Nikolas Ferreira speaks during an event for evangelicals at a church in Belo Horizonte

By Sahar Akbarzai and Julia Jones, CNN

Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes fined the messaging app Telegram on Wednesday for not suspending the account of a far-right elected official and social media influencer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

Earlier in January, the court ordered Telegram to suspend Nikolas Ferreira’s accounts and others “to stop the spread of criminal manifestations,” the statement said.

Failure to suspend Ferreira’s account “is considered indirect collaboration to the continuing of criminal activities,” the court said.

Ferreira, a federal representative from the state of Minas Gerais, has more than 300,000 subscribers on Telegram, 3.6 million followers on Tik Tok, and over 6 million followers on Instagram. He tends to post evangelical and far-right content, and support for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian authorities are still investigating after hundreds of Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia earlier in January, following his defeat in a presidential run-off vote last year.

Ferreira’s social media savvy has played a part in catapulting the 26-year-old’s political career forward; in 2022, he was elected with the most votes of all representatives running nationwide, and the third most votes cast for any representative in Brazil’s history.

Tweeting about the case Wednesday, Ferreira wrote, “They want to disappear me from the internet.”

Telegram is being fined 100,000 Brazilian reais (about $20,000) per day of noncompliance, according to a news release from the Supreme Court.

In a letter from Telegram to Moraes, obtained by CNN Brasil, the company responded asking that the order be reconsidered.

It points out that Ferreira is an elected official, and says no specific criminal content was identified in the order. “No grounds or justifications were provided for the complete blocking of said channel, that is, the specific contents that would be considered illegal were not presented,” the letter said.

CNN has reached out to Telegram for comment.

The Supreme Court has acknowledged that Telegram reported partial compliance with the order, but requested clarification on which specific content to block.

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