Beef with Brazil getting worse: X employees threatened with arrest, says Musk

In a standoff with Elon Musk, Brazil's government has called the billionaire a “lunatic” and stated that it will suspend contracts with Starlink. Musk responded with an announcement that Starlink would provide free internet access to schools in Brazil. The billionaire said that X employees in Brazil are being threatened with arrest.

The tensions between Musk and Brazil’s government continue to escalate to new heights. Musk has called the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes “the dictator of Brazil,” who “has Lula on a leash.” The Brazilian government hit back by naming a billionaire an “extremist militant.”

The clash began when Brazil ordered X to block certain popular accounts and Musk refused, citing a crackdown on free speech. The world’s richest man challenged the court decision and directed harsh criticism toward Moraes. Brazil responded by opening an inquiry.

On Monday evening, Brazil’s Minister of the Presidency's Communication Secretariat, Paulo Pimenta, said that the Brazilian government may review the contracts it has with the satellite internet company Starlink, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, local news website Terra reported.

“Starlink will provide free internet for schools in Brazil if the government won’t honor their contract,” Musk quickly responded on X.

In 2022, Starlink negotiated a contract to provide internet access to 19,000 schools in remote areas of Brazil. Musk even met with former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

In another post, Musk stated that X employees in Brazil “have been told they will be arrested.”

“We need to get our employees in Brazil to a safe place or otherwise not in a position of responsibility, then we will do a full data dump,” Musk continued.

Brazil’s government sources interviewed by CNN have called Musk a “lunatic” who “is not behaving like a businessman but like an extremist militant.” There are debates in Brazil on whether the social network X could be suspended due to non-compliance.

Supreme Court Justice Moraes was a crucial person in allowing the transfer of power to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after the October 2022 election, when Bolsonaro’s camp attempted to discredit the results.

He used a broad interpretation of the court’s powers to investigate, prosecute, and jail those on social media that he deemed a threat to Brazilian institutions, according to a report by The New York Times. Those same aggressive tactics and expanding authority now raise worries that Moraes may have gone too far and threatened democracy.

Brazil asked X to block some far-right accounts for the dissemination of fake news as part of the investigation into Bolsonaro.

Musk argues that X obeys the laws of countries, even if they disagree with them. However, in this case, the orders to X themselves violate the laws of Brazil.

So far, neither side revealed what accounts or content were included in the orders that sparked the clash.

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