Newscast Media BRASILIA—Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has called off an upcoming meeting with President Barack Obama amid allegations of US spying in Brazil. The rift threatens to reverse improved relations between the two trading giants.
The office of Brazilian President Rousseff released a statement on Tuesday announcing the cancellation of a highly-anticipated meeting with President Obama. The talks, which had been scheduled for next month, were expected to highlight the steadily improving relations between the two trade partners. However, revelations of spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Brazil prompted Rousseff to call off the visit, in which she was to have been honored with a state dinner.
Reports from the Brazil daily Globo newspaper, citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have said that US agencies snoop on the phone calls and Internet communications of private citizens, and Rousseff’s own communications with aides. The reports also allege the NSA hacked into the computer network of the state-run energy giant Petrobras.
Washington’s refusal to answer Brasilia’s questions about the allegations and a “commitment to cease such surveillance activities” had created a diplomatic rift between the two countries.
“The conditions are not in place for the visit to go ahead as previously scheduled,” the statement read.
“The illegal interceptions of communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government represents a serious act which violates national sovereignty and is incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly countries,” it added.
Earlier this year, Snowden leaked information to the UK daily The Guardian about alleged US spying on domestic and international telephone and Internet activities. The White House also commented on the cancelled meeting on Tuesday, contending that both presidents had reached a mutual decision to postpone talks until they could smooth diplomatic relations.
“They both look forward to that visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney said. “We’re certainly acknowledging the concerns that these disclosures have generated in Brazil and other countries.”
“[President Obama] has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete,” Carney added.
Other world leaders, including Germany, have decried the alleged NSA spying, but Brazil’s decision to halt talks comes as a first.
Amid public discontent with the Brazilian government’s massive spending on upcoming international sporting events while millions languish in poverty, Rousseff stands to regain political points for standing her ground against the world power.
The negative consequences of halting trade included the possibility of the US losing a major defense contract worth roughly $5 billion (3.74 billion euros). Rousseff had expressed interest in signing a deal with US-based Boeing for the F-18 fighter jets.
However, the disagreement could persuade the Brazilian leader to award the contract to contenders France or Sweden instead.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media BRASILIA—Brazil’s Senate formed an Investigative Parliamentary
Commission this week to follow up on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency
(NSA) spied on President Dilma Rousseff.
“We intend to protect national sovereignty,” said Senator Vanessa Graziotin, of the
Communist Party of Brazil (CPB).
The committee, composed of 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has
180 days to investigate claims the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and
several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.
The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission
needs more time.
As the committee’s first order of business, members discussed the possibility of the
state providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald
and his partner David Miranda, considering them to be key witnesses in the
Greenwald was the first to break the story of Washington’s global spying program,
based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden,
who is wanted by the U.S. on espionage charges for revealing the surveillance
scheme, has been given temporary asylum in Russia.
Miranda was recently interrogated for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport as he
traveled from Germany to Brazil, and had his belongings confiscated. British officials
said they were operating under an anti-terror law, but Greenwald said he believed it
was an attempt to intimidate.
The Senate’s decision to open an investigation follows the broadcast Sunday of a
Brazilian television news program reporting the NSA spied on the highest levels of
Brazil’s government, even targeting the president.
That report was also based on documents leaked by Snowden and made public by
News of NSA spying on Brazil first broke in July, when Brazil’s O Globo daily published
articles alleging the agency had monitored digital communications and phone calls.
Washington has maintained that the spy program is designed to thwart terrorism, but
Brazil says it suspects industrial espionage and has demanded an written official
response from the U.S. government by Friday.
Rousseff is reportedly considering cancelling a scheduled trip to Washington next
month if she receives no answer or an unsatisfactory explanation from the U.S.