RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro said Wednesday there is nothing improper about alleged conversations he had with prosecutors when he was a crusading anti-corruption judge.
"There is nothing to hide. Sensationalism is being created around the news," Moro said in voluntary testimony at a Senate hearing.
The online news site The Intercept has published leaked documents and text messages it said show the former judge offering guidance to prosecutors in investigations that led to the conviction and jailing of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The conviction helped block da Silva from seeking the presidency again in October's election.
On Wednesday, Moro said that a "criminal group" was aiming to "invalidate convictions for corruption and money laundering, hinder investigations that can reach powerful people or simply attack Brazilian institutions."
He also said that he couldn't confirm the authenticity of the messages because they had been erased from his cell phone and could have been "totally or partially doctored."
"Disguised behind hacker attacks and sensationalist publications, there is an attack on the achievements of Brazilian society in the last five years," the former magistrate said.
He said the "Car Wash" investigation, which put da Silva behind bars, had allowed $675 million to be returned to the coffers of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.
On Tuesday, The Intercept published a new report with information from an anonymous source that it claims show Moro did not agree with an investigation of former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso because the ex-leader supported his graft probe.
A statement from Cardoso's office said there were no allegations of corruption against him.
Brazil's federal police are currently looking into a series of attacks made on the cell phones of Moro and several Car Wash prosecutors.
Moro said Wednesday that conversations between the parties of a trial are common in the "Brazilian legal tradition" and don't show interference.
"There is no illegality or ethical deviation in the published messages," he said.
Lawyers for da Silva have previously said that Moro's was not sufficiently impartial.