Former Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller on Thursday called his three-hour detainment in Brazil this week "political brushback," claiming he was targeted for supporting freedom of speech.
On Tuesday, Miller, now the CEO of the pro-Trump social media outlet GETTR, was questioned by Brazilian police at an airport for several hours. Miller had been in Brazil to attend the country's Conservative Political Action Conference and was departing when he was stopped by authorities.
The former Trump aide was reportedly detained as part of investigation looking into “anti-democratic acts,” according to Brazilian media.
Speaking to Fox News, Miller claimed the questioning he was subjected to was part of "two secret investigations" being carried out by Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes.
"This was a political brushback pitch because we support free speech," said Miller, saying he assumed that the detainment was connected to "feuding between the Supreme Court and the president" and an effort to get him to "never come back to Brazil and write off proud patriots."
As The Washington Post reported, de Moraes and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have developed an adversarial relationship, with Bolsonaro recently saying he would no longer abide by rulings from the justice. Next year, de Moraes will be president of Brazil's electoral tribunal as Bolsonaro seeks reelection.
“Any decision from Mr. Alexandre de Moraes, this president will no longer comply with. The patience of our people has run out,” Bolsonaro told demonstrators at a rally this week. “For us, he no longer exists.”
Bolsonaro has called for de Moraes to be impeached and claimed the justice might reject next year's election results.
Miller told Fox News that there was a stark language barrier between him and the police officers since none of them spoke English and he does not speak Portuguese. Miller said the U.S. Embassy ultimately came to assist him in the questioning.
The former Trump spokesperson said he was asked to provide the names of the people helping with GETTR in Brazil. Fox News reported that the conservative platform has attracted around a quarter of a million people already, including Bolsonaro and his sons.
Miller also reported being asked whether GETTR could be used for organizing an event like the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
"We didn’t even kick off until July 4, so why are you asking me about Jan. 6?" Miller recalled responding.
A group of more than 150 world leaders this week released a letter expressing concerns that the demonstrations being carried out in Brazil by Bolsonaro's direction could become an insurrection in the same style as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in the U.S.
"We are gravely concerned about the imminent threat to Brazil’s democratic institutions — and we stand vigilant to defend them ahead of 7 September and after. The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule. Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now," the leaders wrote.
The letter was signed by high-ranking political leaders and academics from across Latin America, Europe and the U.S.