LATIN AMERICA

Petrobras was also a target of NSA spying

Obama promises Rousseff explanation as Brazil leader considers visit snub

Madrid / Rio de Janeiro -
Signage is displayed at a Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday, September 9.
Signage is displayed at a Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday, September 9. Dado Galdieri (Bloomberg)

Tensions between Brazil and the United States over espionage allegations continued to rise this week as new revelations emerged indicating that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.

The new report, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden and detailed on a popular Globo TV Sunday night news program, comes hot on the heels of allegations that the NSA tapped President Dilma Rousseff personal communications, including her cellphone and text messages, and spied on thousands of ordinary Brazilians with the help of national telecoms.

The TV network gave no details regarding what the NSA may have obtained from monitoring Petrobras, but said similar taps were carried out at Google servers and the Belgium-based company that oversees international bank transfers, SWIFT.

On Thursday before the G20 Summit in St Petersburg, Rousseff, who demanded a personal response from Barack Obama, held a private meeting with the US president to complain about his government’s operations.

Obama reportedly promised to give her a detailed written explanation by Wednesday, but there was no news confirming this at press time. Brazilian government officials described her as “very irritated” after the allegations concerning her, and based on Snowden’s leaks, were aired by the same program on September 1.

We don’t use our espionage capacities to steal trade secrets from foreign companies"

Rousseff has not said whether she will cancel her first state visit to Washington planned for October 23. Last week her advanced team was pulled back from going to Washington to prepare for the visit.

On Sunday, the Globo TV program Fantástico aired the allegations presented by Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist living in Brazil who helped Snowden, a former NSA contractor, publicly release information concerning US intelligence operations.

The document Greenwald presented was labeled as “top secret” and only made available to what the NSA has dubbed the “Five Eyes:” United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Press speculation in Brazil on Monday focused on what it was about Petrobras that so interested the NSA. One guess is that the United States wants information on the upcoming auction for permits for drilling permits in the Libra pre-salt field, the largest petroleum reserve to be discovered to date by Brazil and located in the Santos Basin, about 140 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement offered to Globo TV, the NSA said its intention “is not to steal trade secrets.”

“We don’t use our espionage capacities to steal trade secrets from foreign companies to offer advantages to American firms,” according to the statement which was read on air.

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