The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based newspaper O Globo reported on July 9 that former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden had provided it with documents showing that the United States has been accumulating data on telephone calls and e-mails from several countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.
Citing the report in O Globo, the Washington Post reported that the NSA had collected military and security data “on countries such as Venezuela, an American adversary that has been accused of aiding Colombia’s Marxist rebels and maintaining close ties with Iran.”
While spying on a leftist regime such as Venezuela’s might be understandable, the documents show that the NSA carried out surveillance operations to discover inside information related to the oil and energy industries not only in Venezuela, but also in Mexico.
The Post quoted a statement from U.S. officials in Bogota, Colombia, whose statement on the assertions printed in O Globo was: “We have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”
Brazil’s Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo told reporters in Brasilia that Thomas Shannon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, denied in a meeting that the United States carries out surveillance operations on Brazilian communications and told him that the United States is not working with Brazilian telecommunications operators, reported the Post.
The Guardian (U.K.) also cited Bernardo’s opinion that the NSA data gathering was likely to have been done by satellite or by tapping undersea cables, but he also wanted to determine whether domestic international providers were involved.
“If that has happened, these companies broke Brazilian law and acted against our constitution, which safeguards the right to privacy,” said Bernardo.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told reporters on Monday that her government would raise the issues with the UN Commission on Human Rights, asserting, “Brazil’s position on this issue is very clear and very firm. We do not agree at all with interference of this kind, not just in Brazil but in any other country.”
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Photo of protesters in Mexico condemning the rerouting of Morales' plane: AP Images