Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Facebook on Saturday denounced an "extremist" decision by a Brazilian Supreme Court judge, who ordered the accounts of 12 prominent allies of President Jair Bolsonaro to be blocked, promising to appeal.

Tensions are escalating between the far-right president and the Supreme Court, which is investigating allegations that several members of Bolsonaro's entourage are waging a social media campaign to discredit this judicial institution and threaten its judges.

"This new court ruling is extremist, it poses a threat to freedom of expression and conflicts with laws and jurisdictions around the world," Facebook said in a statement.

Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered in July the suspension of 12 Facebook accounts and 16 Twitter accounts, to put an end to "the dissemination of false news, defamatory accusations, threats and crimes" against the Court.

Among the suspended accounts were those of former Tory MP Roberto Jefferson, business mogul Luciano Hang and far-right activist Sara Winter.

On July 25, the two social networks had effectively blocked access to accounts, but only for Internet users who tried to access them from Brazil.

The owners of the suspended accounts had quickly circumvented the ban by telling their subscribers how to change their account settings to make them appear to be from a country other than Brazil.

In response, Judge Moraes on Thursday ordered social networks to apply the suspension to internet users around the world.

Faced with Facebook's refusal, Mr. Moraes fined the company 1.9 million reals (around 310,000 euros) and summons its leader in Brazil, Conrado Lester.

“Faced with the threat to hold a Facebook Brazil employee criminally responsible, we have no choice but to comply with the ruling by blocking accounts around the world,” Facebook wrote in its statement.

The social network said it would appeal this decision to the Brazilian Supreme Court.

President Bolsonaro also announced an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.

© 2020 AFP