Wed, Sep 04, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Brazil, Mexico demand explanation for spying

‘UNACCEPTABLE’:Both countries said that if it were true the NSA spied on their presidents, it violated their sovereignty, and summoned the US ambassadors over it

AFP, BRASILIA

Brazil and Mexico demanded explanations from the US on Monday over allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the communications of their presidents.

Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Figueiredo said the interception of Internet data from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reported by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, if proven, “represents an unacceptable and unallowable violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it sent a diplomatic note to Washington calling for an “exhaustive investigation” into claims that the NSA spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s e-mails before his election last year.

Mexico said that, if true, the snooping would be a “violation of international rights” and that it “rejects and condemns any espionage work on Mexican citizens.”

Both governments summoned the US ambassadors to their countries, though the envoy to Mexico was out of the country on Monday.

A US State Department official sought to downplay concerns, saying 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 claims reported by Greenwald, who obtained classified files from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, follow allegations of widespread US electronic espionage in Latin America that angered the region’s leaders.

The report emerged as Rousseff and Pena Nieto, who lead Latin America’s two biggest economies, prepare to travel to Russia later this week for a G20 summit during which they will see US President Barack Obama.

Rousseff is also scheduled to visit Washington next month, five months after Obama visited Pena Nieto in Mexico.

Citing an NSA document from June last year, Greenwald told Globo television on Sunday that the agency was trying to better understand Rousseff’s methods of communication and interlocutors using a program to access all Internet content she visited online.

The NSA program allegedly allowed agents to access the entire communications network of the president and her staff, including telephone, Internet and social network exchanges, the Rio-based journalist said.

Figueiredo said he told US Ambassador Thomas Shannon that his government wanted “a formal, written explanation” this week.

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