Leonardo DiCaprio Denies Brazilian President's Claim That He Funded Fires in the Amazon

Leonardo DiCaprio has responded to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after he accused the actor and environmentalist of financing the fires in the Amazon.

Without providing any evidence, Bolsonaro claimed DiCaprio had funded non-profit groups that he alleges are responsible for the fires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest this year.

"DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn't he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire," the right-wing leader said in Brasilia on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

DiCaprio, whose organization Earth Alliance has pledged $5 million to protect the Amazon after the fires destroyed large parts of the rainforest over the summer, has denied Bolsonaro's claim that he funded the non-profits being investigated in Brazil.

In a statement posted on his Instagram page on Sunday, DiCaprio said the groups are "worthy of support," but denied donating to them.

"At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage. They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment," he said.

"The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them. While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted."

He added: "I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians."

Bolsonaro's comments came after a two non-profit groups in the Brazilian state of Pará had their headquarters raided by police this week.

The Associated Press reported that four volunteer firefighters were also arrested with local police saying they are being investigated on suspicion of deliberately igniting the fires to get funding. They have denied the allegation and have since been released on a judge's order.

Bolsonaro's comments about DiCaprio appear to center around allegations made on social media that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had paid for images taken by the firefighters and then used them to solicit donations, including a $500,000 contribution from DiCaprio, according to Reuters. The WWF has denied receiving a donation from DiCaprio or obtaining photographs from the arrested firefighters. Newsweek has contacted the organization for further comment.

"So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video," Bolsonaro said during a live webcast on Thursday, according to Reuters.

"(WWF) makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000. A part of that went to the people that were setting fires. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon, that won't do."

Leo Dicaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio speaks onstage during SAG-AFTRA Foundation's 4th Annual Patron of the Artists Awards at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on November 7, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation