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US-Brazil tensions rise after new spy report

In this phoreleased by AgenciBrasil Brazil's President DilmRousseff right attends swearing-ceremony newly named Foreign Minister Luiz AlberFigueiredo left Planalpalace BrasiliBrazil

In this photo released by Agencia Brasil, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, right, attends the swearing-in ceremony of newly named Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, left, at the Planalto palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. The smuggling of a Bolivian dissident into the country by a Brazilian diplomat may have prompted the ouster of Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, left back, but analysts said Tuesday it was just the last straw for his strained relationship with the president. (AP Photo/Agencia Brasil, Antonio Cruz)

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Updated: September 2, 2013 11:18AM



RIO DE JANEIRO — The U.S. ambassador to Brazil met with his Brazilian counterpart Monday following new revelations that the National Security Agency’s spy program directly targeted the South American nation’s leader.

Ambassador Thomas Shannon arrived and left Brazil’s Foreign Ministry without speaking to reporters. There was no comment from officials at Brazil’s Foreign Ministry either.

The office of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said it had no immediate comment, but Rousseff was meeting with top ministers to discuss the case.

Lawmakers in Latin America’s largest nation were outraged over the Globo TV network’s report citing documents dated June 2012 from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

They showed that the U.S. was targeting Rousseff’s emails and telephone calls, along with those of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose communications were being monitored even before he was elected as president in July, 2012.

Sen. Ricardo Ferraco, head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, said that lawmakers already had agreed to formally investigate the U.S. program’s focus on Brazil because of earlier revelations that the country was a top target of the NSA program in the region, and that the probe would likely start work this week.

“I feel a mixture of amazement and indignation. It seems like there are no limits. When the phone of the president of the republic is monitored, it’s hard to imagine what else might be happening,” Ferraco told reporters in Brasilia. “It’s unacceptable that in a country like ours, where there is absolutely no climate of terrorism, that there is this type of spying.”

During the Sunday night TV program, U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, told the news program “Fantastico” that a document dated June 2012 shows that Pena Nieto’s emails were being read. The document’s date is the month before Pena Nieto was elected.

The document indicated who Pena Nieto would like to name to some government posts, among other information.

It’s not clear if the spying continues.

As for Brazil’s leader, the June 2012 document “doesn’t include any of Dilma’s specific intercepted messages, the way it does for Nieto,” Greenwald told The Associated Press in an email. “But it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats.”

The U.S. targeting mapped out the aides with whom Rousseff communicated and went a level further by tracking patterns of how those aides communicated with one another and also third parties, according to the document.

Messages sent to Pena Nieto’s office were not immediately returned. He was delivering his state of the nation speech on Monday. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said it had no comment.

Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo told the newspaper O Globo that “if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil’s sovereignty.”

“This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the U.S. and Brazil have,” he added.

In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles in O Globo that said documents leaked by Snowden indicate Brazil was the largest target in Latin America for the NSA program, which collected data on billions of emails and calls flowing through Brazil.

The Brazilian government denounced the NSA activities outlined in the earlier reports.

Greenwald reported then that the NSA collected the data through an undefined association between U.S. and Brazilian telecommunications companies. He said he could not verify which Brazilian companies were involved or if they were aware their links were being used to collect the data.

Greenwald began writing stories based on material leaked by Snowden in May, mostly for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.

Before news of the NSA program broke, the White House announced that Rousseff would be honored with a state dinner in October during a trip to the U.S., the only such full state dinner scheduled this year for a foreign leader. The move highlighted the U.S. desire to build on improved relations since Rousseff took the presidency on Jan. 1, 2011.

Rousseff’s office said last week that there were no plans to scrap the state dinner because of the NSA program.

The new revelations follow last month’s detention of Greenwald’s domestic partner, Brazilian citizen David Miranda, who was held for nearly nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport under anti-terrorism legislation.

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Bradley Brooks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bradleybrooks



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