Brazil angered over report that NSA spied on president
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government summoned the U.S. ambassador Monday to respond to new revelations of U.S. surveillance of President Dilma Rousseff and her top aides, complicating relations between the countries ahead of Rousseff’s state visit to Washington next month.
While senior Brazilian officials expressed indignation over the revelations of spying by the National Security Agency on both Rousseff and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto — reported Sunday on the Globo television network — they stopped short of saying whether Rousseff’s visit was at risk of being called off.
“This would be an unacceptable violation to our sovereignty, involving our head of state,” José Eduardo Cardozo, Brazil’s justice minister, said in an interview. Cardozo said Brazil had requested an explanation from Washington regarding the revelations, emphasizing that he had proposed in meetings with U.S. officials a legal accord regulating U.S. intelligence activities in Brazil.
“Something like this would clearly not fit within such an agreement,” Cardozo said.
The report, based on documents provided by the fugitive NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden to Glenn Greenwald, a U.S. journalist living in Brazil, described how the NSA used different computer programs to filter through communications and gain access to specific emails, telephone calls and text messages of Rousseff’s top aides.
In the case of Mexico’s leader, the Globo report described how the NSA obtained a text message from Peña Nieto himself in 2012, while he was a candidate for the presidency, which referred to an appointment he planned to make to his staff if elected.
Mexico’s response to the revelations was relatively muted compared with Brazil’s. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was asking the United States in a diplomatic note for an “exhaustive investigation” into the matter, while also summoning the U.S. ambassador to emphasize the government’s position.
Washington has been seeking to enhance its ties with Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, by reaching out to Rousseff. Her government was already angered by previous revelations that Brazil ranked among the NSA’s most spied-upon countries.
While Brazil maintains generally warm ties with the United States, resentment lingers over the repressive eavesdropping during its military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985 and the support of the United States for the coup that brought the military to power.