Brazil and Mexico have called on the U.S. to explain recent reports — sourced to documents obtained by Edward Snowden — alleging that the NSA spied on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Rousseff, who called in U.S. ambassador Thomas Shannon over the allegations, might cancel an October trip to the White House.
Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, contributed to the report which aired this Sunday on the Globo network's "Fantastico." Showing documents from Snowden, the news program indicated that as of June 2012, the U.S. was intercepting the emails and phone calls of both leaders. That means that Nieto, elected in July 2012, was the subject of NSA scrutiny even before taking office. The document contained passages from what are apparently Nieto's intercepted emails. Greenwald, speaking to the AP, said that it was "clear in several ways" from the documents that the communications of Rousseff were intercepted too, "including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats." The document did not contain excerpts from any of Rousseff's allegedly intercepted communications.
In addition to voicing her concerns to the American envoy, Rousseff and her administration called for international regulations limiting the covert interception of communications. Brazil's Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo said in a press conference that:
"We're going to talk with our partners, including developed and developing nations, to evaluate how they protect themselves and to see what joint measures could be taken in the face of this grave situation...there has to be international regulations that prohibit citizens and governments alike from being exposed to interceptions, violations of privacy and cyberattacks."
Brazil is already less than pleased with the NSA and the White House over U.S. intelligence collection. An earlier report, for one thing, revealed that the NSA was collecting the communications of Brazilian citizens in bulk. That's through the so-called "FAIRVIEW" program, which targets communications from "friendly" countries, though indirect partnerships with foreign companies.
In a statement, Mexico's foreign ministry said that "Without prejudging the veracity of the information presented in the media, the Mexican government rejects and categorically condemns any espionage work against Mexican citizens in violation of international law." Mexico has also spoken to the U.S. ambassador, as well as directly to the administration, about the report.
Brazil gave the U.S. a week to provide a written explanation for the Globos report. In response to the Mexican and Brazilian requests, White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden told Reuters that:
"While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."
The White House further said that it would respond to the requests from "partners and allies" through diplomatic channels.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.