Leonardo DiCaprio denied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's claims that the actor funded efforts that started fires in the Amazon rainforest.
In a statement posted to his Instagram on Saturday, DiCaprio said he has not provided support to organizations that are accused of setting the fires. Instead, the actor said, he was committed to supporting indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, and others who are working to protect the world's largest tropical rainforest.
"At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage," the actor said. "They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment."
On Friday, Bolsonaro, who has advocated for development in the Amazon, claimed without proof that DiCaprio has funded nonprofit groups that his government has accused of intentionally setting fires in the rainforest.
"DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” the president said, according to the Associated Press.
The president's remarks came days after Brazilian police arrested volunteer firefighters and raided a nonprofit associated with fire prevention efforts. Civic leaders and environmental groups believe the law enforcement actions were part of a larger campaign to crack down on nonprofit environmental groups operating in the country.
In August, Bolsonaro suggested, again without offering proof, that the NGOs might be setting fires deliberately in order to make him look bad.
"While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted," DiCaprio said in the statement.
Earth Alliance, the actor's environmental organization, has pledged $5 million to help protect the Amazon after a spike in fires in the region this year.
In his post, DiCaprio included statements from representatives of other conservation groups who echoed support for the groups targeted by the Brazilian government's investigations into the fires.
"We stand by those falsely accused of starting forest fires in the Amazon, and reaffirm our support to those who are dedicated to protecting one of our planet's most vital and imperiled ecosystems," said Wes Sechrest, chief scientist and CEO of Global Wildlife Conservation.