Greenwald claims up to 20,000 Snowden documents are in his possession
Glenn Greenwald testified before a Brazilian Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday. The Brazil-based American reporter – who was approached by Snowden while the whistleblower still worked as a contractor for the NSA - has published details of US electronic surveillance programs taking place domestically and abroad.
"I did not do an exact count, but he gave me 15,000, 20,000
documents. Very, very complete and very long," Greenwald told
"The stories we have published are a small portion. There will
certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the
US government and allied governments...on how they have
penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin
America," he said.
In addition to his reporting for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Greenwald has also been a fixture on O Globo, where the journalist shared the alleged details of US electronic surveillance of Brazil and virtually all of Latin America.
During his testimony, Greenwald alleged that Brazilian companies
have agreements in place with American telecoms to collect data
for the National Security Agency (NSA), and stressed that their
complicity should be investigated by that country’s government.
O Globo recently published claims that Washington had at least at
one time maintained a spy center in the capital of Brasilia, as
part of a network of 16 similar facilities worldwide designed to
intercept foreign satellite transmissions.
Allegations of widespread US surveillance of Brazil prompted US
Vice President Joe Biden last month to call Brazilian President
Dilma Rousseff to provide an explanation. US Ambassador to Brazil
Thomas Shannon had earlier denied the NSA was tapping into
telecoms in the country.
The additional files in Greenwald’s possession are believed to have been handed over when Snowden took refuge at a hotel in Hong Kong before fleeing to Moscow.
“The pretext [given by Washington] for the spying is only one
thing: terrorism and the need to protect the [American] people.
But the reality is that there are many documents which have
nothing to do with terrorism or national security, but have to do
with competition with other countries, in the business,
industrial and economic fields," Greenwald said on Tuesday.
On Monday, foreign ministers of the South American trade bloc
Mercosur raised the issue of alleged NSA surveillance throughout
Latin America with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The ministers discussed with Ban a statement adopted by the bloc on July 12 following a summit in Montevideo, Uruguay. The statement called for UN members to propose ways to halt spying and potentially pursue sanctions against the United States.
But doing so would be impossible under the current framework, as
only the Security Council can impose legally binding sanctions
and the US holds veto privilege over any such resolution as a
permanent member of the council.
One of the most recent leaks provided by Snowden - published last month - refers to a secret surveillance system named XKeyscore which is allegedly used by the NSA to monitor internet traffic.
In his Tuesday testimony, Greenwald described the system as not only able to collect metadata "but also the content of emails and what is being discussed in telephone conversations. It is a powerful program which frightens."