Leonardo DiCaprio denies Brazil president's accusation he supported charities that lit Amazon fires

Actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio has hit back at the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's claims he funded nonprofit groups that are thought partly responsible for fires in the Amazon this year.

Actor, Leonardo Dicaprio. Source: US ABC

Mr Bolsonaro made the bizarre claim yesterday, saying to supporters in Brasilia,"DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn't he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire." 

DiCaprio, who has pledged $5 million for the Amazon, released a statement today via Instagram, saying ,"although they are certainly worth supporting, we have not funded the organisations that are currently under attack.

Jair Bolsonaro Source: Associated Press

"The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to be part of the groups that protect them," he said.

The criticism of DiCaprio and environmental activists follows a police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit groups in the Amazonian state of Para earlier this week.

Local police also arrested four volunteer firefighters and say they are investigating them for allegedly igniting fires to obtain funding from sympathetic donors.

The volunteer firefighters denied any wrongdoing and a judge ordered their release.

Federal prosecutors say their investigations point to land-grabbers as primary suspects for fires in the area, not nonprofits or firefighters.

Cattle ranchers, farmers and illegal loggers have long used fire to clear land in the Amazon.

This is not the first time Brazil's president has suggested, without evidence, that nonprofit groups are setting fires in the Amazon, or questioned warnings about climate change.

In August, in the midst of an international outcry over the Amazon fires, Bolsonaro blamed the "information war going on in the world against Brazil" and fired the head of the governmental space research institute that monitors deforestation.