Brazil high court revokes Telegram suspension after it blocks disinformation accounts

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Two men pose with smartphones in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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SAO PAULO, March 20 (Reuters) - Brazil's Supreme Court revoked on Sunday an order suspending the use of messaging app Telegram in the country after the company complied with court requests to block accounts that allegedly spread disinformation, according to a statement on the court's website.

On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered the suspension, saying Telegram had repeatedly refused to adhere to judicial orders to freeze accounts spreading fake news or comply with the country's laws. read more

Telegram founder Pavel Durov responded by apologizing for the company's "negligence" in replying to court orders.

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Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters have increasingly relied upon Telegram as a form of mass communication as larger tech companies like Meta (FB.O), which owns messaging app WhatsApp, Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google and Twitter (TWTR.N) have adhered to Supreme Court orders to drop offending accounts over allegedly spreading disinformation.

Moraes had given a Sunday deadline for Telegram to comply with its orders, including freezing accounts belonging to Allan dos Santos, an activist linked to Bolsonaro.

In the Supreme Court statement, Moraes said Telegram had shown "full compliance."

"I revoke the decision of complete suspension of the operation of Telegram in Brazil," he added.

Telegram has appointed Alan Campos Elias Thomaz as its legal representative in Brazil, the court statement said, fulfilling a key request.

Moraes' move further stoked debate about freedom of speech in politically polarized Brazil in the latest chapter in the crusading justice's battle with Bolsonaro and his allies.

The justice has been leading a series of Supreme Court investigations into Bolsonaro and his supporters for disseminating fake news - probes that have enraged many on the right and raised questions about judicial overreach.

Bolsonaro had decried the suspension as "inadmissible."

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Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Richard Chang and Diane Craft

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