World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) carried out surveillance operations on ‘most Latin American countries’, Brazil’s O Globo newspaper has alleged, days after first reporting that the NSA had intercepted ‘millions of emails and telephone calls’ both entering and leaving Brazil.
The Brazilian daily says that as well as Brazil, the program also carried out intense surveillance on three other Latin countries – Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. The paper also claims at least ten other countries in the region were monitored to some extent, including Argentina, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
The documents show that Colombia, the United States’ top military ally in the region, has been the target of “massive and constant” surveillance since 2008 until March 2013, and clearly details the amount of data sent by underwater fiber-optic cables in April 2007, the paper reports.
O Globo was granted access to documents containing information gathered and revealed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, currently on the run from the U.S. authorities.
Reports say that information gathered did not stop at private emails and calls, but also industry and military secrets – such as data from February 2012 showing information on Venezuela’s military orders and petroleum sectors and Mexico’s energy industry.
The newspaper also says the NSA mapped drug trafficking and movements by the FARC militants. Colombia and Brazil reportedly became the agency’s prime targets after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in March this year.
The article in O Globo was co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist principally based out of Rio de Janeiro who works for the UK’s Guardian newspaper and first reported on the alleged scale of U.S. communications monitoring both in the United States and in other countries through documents leaked by Snowden.
Spied on from the inside?
O Globo newspaper said it believes the documents show access to data was obtained through Brazilian companies partnered with American firms, although no such company was identified. Information was likely transferred by underwater data cable and/or one of the eight geostationary satellites Brazil rents for its domestic communication operations, it concluded.
On Monday, Brazil’s national telecoms agency, Anatal, said it would investigate whether local service providers had colluded with the U.S. spy agencies in violation of customer privacy rules and the country’s Constitution.
The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, has already been summoned to give explanations over the supposed surveillance practices. He denied claims that the U.S. has spied on millions of Brazilians’ private and corporate emails and calls over the last ten years, and attempted to reassure his Brazilian counterparts that the program and its intentions has been misunderstood.
Although Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota publicly praised the United States’ willingness to cooperate and clarify Brazil’s question over the issue, others – including Minister for Communications Paulo Bernardo have said they are “in no doubt” that Brazilians were subjected to mass spying by the U.S. government agencies.
O Globo also alleges that the NSA ran joint offices with the United States’ CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in the Brazilian capital Brasília, and three other Latin countries – Venezuela, Panama and Mexico in a mass gathering network known as the Special Collection Service.
Governments respond to spy accusations
A number of heads of state have now condemned the allegations of widespread monitoring by the U.S. security agency – including President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.
Following an emergency meeting by the Brazilian government to discuss the country’s response to the allegations, Brazil Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo announced a technical and legal working group would be set up to investigate how such a network might have gained access to Brazilians’ communications, saying “Brazil has to investigate and take a stand in defence of its citizens.”
Cardozo also said the Federal Police had opened a formal inquiry into the accusations.
The figure at the center of the claims – former CIA and NSA contractor Edward Snowden – apparently remains in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport in the Russian capital, Moscow, deciding which of the countries that have offered him political asylum – Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua – to accept.
Earlier on Tuesday Russian deputy Aleksei Pushov said via Twitter than Snowden had accepted an offer from Venezuela for asylum, although quickly deleted the tweet.
However, despite the revelations concerning surveillance in Brazil, Patriota confirmed that Brazil had not changed its mind on the refusal of Mr. Snowden’s asylum application.Last Mod: 10 Temmuz 2013, 11:29