News / USA

Report: US Spied on Presidents of Brazil, Mexico

President Barack Obama with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013.
President Barack Obama with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013.
ReutersVOA News
The Brazilian government on Monday summoned the U.S. ambassador over new allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency spy program targeted President Dilma Rousseff.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, following a report on Brazil's Globo TV that the United States spied on Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia declined to comment on the meeting.

The U.S. National Security Agency spied on emails, phone calls and text messages of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news program reported, a revelation that could strain Washington's relations with Latin America's two biggest nations.

The report late Sunday by Globo's news program “Fantastico” was based on documents that journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, was listed as a co-contributor to the report.

“Fantastico” showed what it said was an NSA slide dated June 2012 displaying passages of written messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was still a candidate at that time. In the messages, Pena Nieto discussed who he was considering naming as his ministers once elected.

A separate slide displayed communication patterns between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers, “Fantastico” said, although no specific written passages were included in the report.

US President Barack Obama with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011.US President Barack Obama with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011.
x
US President Barack Obama with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011.
US President Barack Obama with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011.
Both slides were part of an NSA case study showing how data could be “intelligently” filtered by the agency's secret internet surveillance programs that were disclosed in a trove of documents leaked by Snowden in June, “Fantastico” said.

Brazil's government, already smarting from earlier reports that the NSA spied on the emails and phone calls of Brazilians, called in U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon to explain the new allegations that the agency had spied on Rousseff herself.

Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the contents of the documents, if confirmed, “should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

“This (spying) hits not only Brazil, but the sovereignty of several countries that could have been violated in a way totally contrary to what international law establishes,” he told O Globo newspaper.

State visit, F-18 jets

Cardozo traveled last week to Washington and met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials, seeking more details on a previous, seemingly less serious set of disclosures by Snowden regarding U.S. spying in Brazil.

Rousseff is scheduled to make a formal state visit in October to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, a trip intended to illustrate the warming in Brazilian-U.S. relations since she took office in 2011.

Rousseff held a Cabinet meeting on Monday that included the country's defense, justice, communications and foreign affairs ministers to discuss a response to the espionage report. A presidential spokesman would not comment on the new allegations.

“We value our relationship with Brazil, understand that they have valid concerns about these disclosures and we will continue to engage with the Brazilian government in an effort to address those concerns,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said. “Brazil and the United States are global partners and we agree that our broader relationship will remain vital and moving forward.”

Mexico's presidential palace said it had no immediate comment. In July, after initial reports of NSA surveillance of  internet communications in Latin American nations, Mexico's Pena Nieto said it would be “totally unacceptable” if it were revealed that the United States had spied on its neighbor and largest business partner in the region.

The United States is hoping to sell Brazil 36 F-18 fighter jets, but a Brazilian government official said manufacturer Boeing's chances of landing the more than $4 billion deal have been set back by the espionage scandal.

During a visit last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Brazil not to let spying revelations derail growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations between the two largest economies in the Americas. But he gave no indication the United States would end the secret surveillance.

Kerry said the NSA surveillance was aimed at protecting Americans and Brazilians from terrorist attacks.

But Justice Minister Cardozo said on Monday that the latest revelations based on Snowden's documents show that U.S. electronic surveillance goes beyond combating terrorism and has political targets and may even involve commercial espionage.

Until the report of spying on their president, Brazilian officials, while outwardly furious, appeared to be intent on putting the espionage scandal behind them so that it would not hurt relations with Washington and Rousseff's state visit next month.

Carl Meacham, head of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, believes Brazil has more to lose than the United States if the visit is scrubbed.

Rousseff, whose popularity has been hurt by massive protests in June against corruption and poor public services, might even make political hay out of the NSA spying affair, he said.

“Keeping this going is probably helpful to Rousseff,” Meacham said. “This helps distract from what is going on in Brazil, things like the economy and spending for the Olympics and the World Cup.”

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs