2013 09 03 NYT Brazil Angered Over Report N.S.A. Spied on President – NYTimes.com
Brazil Angered Over Report N.S.A. Spied on President
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government summoned the United States ambassador on Monday to respond to new revelations of American surveillance of President Dilma Rousseff and her top aides, complicating relations between the countries ahead of Ms. 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 Ms. Rousseff and Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico — reported Sunday on the Globo television network — they stopped short of saying whether Ms. 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. Mr. Cardozo said that Brazil had requested an explanation from Washington regarding the revelations, emphasizing that he had already proposed in meetings with American officials a legal accord regulating United States intelligence activities in Brazil.
“Something like this would clearly not fit” within such an agreement, Mr. Cardozo said.
The report, based on documents provided by the fugitive N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden to Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Brazil, described how the N.S.A. used different computer programs to filter through communications and gain access to specific e-mails, telephone calls and text messages of Ms. Rousseff’s top aides.
In the case of Mexico’s leader, the Globo report described how the N.S.A. obtained a text message from Mr. Peña Nieto himself in 2012, while he was a candidate for the presidency, that referred to an appointment he planned to make to his staff if elected.
Mexico’s response to the revelations was 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 American 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 Ms. Rousseff. Her government was already angered by previous revelations that Brazil ranked among the N.S.A.’s most spied-upon countries.
While Brazil maintains generally warm ties with the United States, resentment lingers over the repressive eavesdropping by the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985 and the support of the United States for the coup that brought the military to power.
American officials here were put on the defensive just weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry briefly visited Brazil in August in an effort to ease tension over earlier reports describing how the N.S.A. had established a data collection center in Brasília, among the strategies the N.S.A. is said to have used to delve into Brazil’s large telecommunications hubs.
The American Embassy in Brasília said Monday that it would not comment on the matter.
Beyond condemning American spying practices, Brazil is taking other steps. For instance, Gen. Sinclair Mayer, who runs the Brazilian Army’s science and technology department, recently told lawmakers of a plan to establish underwater Internet cables linking Brazil to Europe and Africa, reflecting an effort to reroute Internet traffic now going through the United States.
Brazil also said in August that it had chosen a French-Italian venture to build a satellite for military and civilian use, part of a bid to ensure sovereignty of important communications.
The Brazilian authorities have also ordered Brazil’s Postal Service to develop a national e-mail system allowing users to exchange encrypted messages that would presumably be harder for intelligence agencies to monitor. The new system, scheduled to begin in 2014, is intended as an alternative to American services like Gmail and Hotmail.
Cybersecurity experts have expressed skepticism, pointing to how even hackers have found ways to penetrate seemingly secure satellites and porous parts of the Internet, but Brazil is still moving ahead with the programs.
For Mexico, the report comes at an awkward time, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. scheduled to visit Mexico soon to promote economic talks and with American law enforcement officials continuing to chafe over the unexpected release of one of the most notorious drug lords from a Mexico prison.
The security relationship under Mr. Peña Nieto has been strained at times, with his government seeking to control American law enforcement activity in Mexico more tightly, but both countries have promised to collaborate closely and have worked on arrests.
Simon Romero reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Randal C. Archibold from Mexico City.