UPDATE: Are You Paying Attention? Brazil Escalates Major Free Speech Assault

April 8th, 2024 5:04 PM

UPDATE 4/9/24 9:48 a.m. – On Monday, MRC Free Speech America reached out to the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court for comment on Elon Musk's remarks against de Moraes, but a spokesperson did not respond. Instead, the spokesperson directed MRC to Moraes’s criminal referral to the attorney general, asking them to investigate Musk's pro-free speech actions pertaining to the previous orders. You can find the referral (in Portuguese) here.


The battle between an infamous left-wing Brazilian judge and X owner Elon Musk has taken yet another dark twist that could put Brazil an inch closer to becoming a totalitarian regime, critics warn.

On Sunday, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes launched a criminal investigation into Musk after the tech mogul dared to defy a contentious court order demanding what has been described as the unwarranted censorship of some X users. 

X’s Global Government Affairs announced that de Moraes ordered the social media platform to ban certain popular users over so-called disinformation. Tellingly, the judge ordered the platform to not disclose the order.

In response, Musk ordered the platform to unban these accounts, arguing that de Moraes has no legal basis for the requested censorship. Such a defiant act seemingly triggered de Moraes to launch a probe into Musk for potential obstruction of justice, criminal organization and incitement of crime, Forbes reported on Monday.

Journalist Michael Shellenberger, an individual who often breaks stories out of Brazil, tweeted on Monday that the criminal probe into Musk may lead to the closure of X’s operations in the Central American country.

“De Moraes has taken Brazil one step closer to being a dictatorship,” Shellenberger wrote. “What’s more, the events of the last few weeks make clear that Elon Musk is the only thing standing in the way of global totalitarianism. Without free speech, there can be no democracy.”

Earlier this week, Musk accused de Moraes of threatening to arrest Brazil-based X employees and imposing hefty fines. De Moraes imposed a fine of nearly $20,000 per day for each account not banned, according to Forbes.

“As a result, we will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there. But principles matter more than profit,” Musk wrote on Saturday.

In follow-up posts, Musk directly addressed Moraes, including calling for a public debate on the orders and suggesting that the orders may be carried out in a bid to support political affiliation.

“X supports the people of Brazil, without regard to political affiliation. Does Judge @Alexandre?” Musk questioned on Monday.

De Moraes did not immediately respond to MRC Free Speech America’s request for comment.

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