The Hungarian embassy in Brasília has reportedly fired two Brazilian employees after the leaking of security footage that revealed how Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro had spent two nights “hiding” inside the mission.

According to the network CNN Brasil, the sackings were punishment for the embarrassing leak to the New York Times which prompted a political outcry in Brazil and calls for Bolsonaro’s arrest.

“Even without proving the employees’ involvement in divulging the video, the Hungarian mission decided to dismiss the Brazilians who had access to the monitor that displayed the images in real-time,” CNN Brasil reported.

The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times has not said how it obtained the leaked images.

Bolsonaro took shelter in the embassy – a short drive from the presidential palace – in early February, four days after two close aides were arrested on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the Brazilian government.

However, the Brazilian politician and his Hungarian hosts kept his stay secret until the US newspaper’s exposé on 25 March. Bolsonaro was subsequently forced to admit he had been there.

The New York Times said Bolsonaro’s embassy stay suggested he was “seeking to leverage his friendship” with Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, “into an attempt to evade the Brazilian justice system as he faces criminal investigations at home”.

The rightwing populist – who was Brazil’s president from 2018 until 2023 – is currently facing a series of criminal investigations, the most serious of which involves suspicions that he plotted to prevent his leftwing successor taking office. Bolsonaro was forced to surrender his passport in early February, four days before entering the Hungarian embassy.

The ex-president’s lawyers have denied he was trying to seek asylum at the Hungarian mission, with the president claiming he was merely “keeping in touch with authorities from a friendly nation”. Members of Brazil’s supreme court have so far resisted calls for them to order Bolsonaro’s arrest in order to stop him taking up residence in the embassy where Brazilian police would be unable to detain him.

Bolsonaro is a close political ally of Orbán, who recently travelled to Florida to meet with another of the Brazilian’s main international backers: Donald Trump. One of Bolsonaro’s politician sons, the congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, will reportedly travel to Hungary later this month to take part in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest.

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