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2 Sep, 2013 09:23

NSA spied on Brazil, Mexico presidents - Greenwald

NSA spied on Brazil, Mexico presidents - Greenwald

The NSA's spy program allegedly targeted the communications of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents, US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, has reported. It's not clear whether the spying still goes on.

Guardian reporter Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, told Globo's news program ‘Fantastico’ that a document dated June 2012 shows that Mexican President's emails were being read through a month before Enrique Pena Nieto was elected. In his communications the then-presidential candidate indicated who he would like to appoint to some government posts.

Meanwhile, as for Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, the document Greenwald refers to "doesn't include any of Dilma's specific intercepted messages, the way it does for Nieto…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 journalist told AP in an email. 

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L) with his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff (AFP Photo)

According to the document, the US not only targeted the aides with whom the Brazilian leader communicated, but also allegedly scrutinized schemes of how those aides communicated with each other and third parties. 

In response, Brazil and Mexico summoned US ambassadors on Monday, demanding explanations over alleged NSA spying.  

Brazil's Foreign Minister Luis Figueiredo stated that if the interception of data from President Dilma Rousseff were proven, then it would "represent an unacceptable and unallowable violation of Brazilian sovereignty", AFP reported.

Presidential secretary general Gilberto Carvalho was quoted by O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper as saying that Brazil is in “an emergency situation due to these spying allegations.”

Also, the Brazilian Senate is planning to name a special committee on Tuesday to investigate the allegations. 

Mexico sent a diplomatic note to Washington asking for an “an exhaustive investigation” into the claims, warning that if proven, it would be a "violation of international rights."

Greenwald’s report came, as Rousseff and Pena Nieto get ready to travel to Russia later this week for a G20 summit, where they will meet US President Barack Obama.

The Brazilian government decried the NSA activities revealed in the earlier reports. In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles, published in O Globo, claiming that some of the documents leaked by Snowden indicated that Brazil was the largest target for the NSA program in Latin America. According to Greenwald, the NSA collected its data through an undefined association between US and Brazilian telecommunications companies. However, the journalist said he couldn't verify which Brazilian companies had been involved or if they were even aware that their networks were being used to collect the data for the NSA.

Last month Greenwald's domestic partner, 28-year-old Brazilian citizen David Miranda, was detained for nine hours under Schedule 7 of the UK’s terrorism act when he arrived at Heathrow Airport in transit to Berlin, on his way to Rio de Janeiro. Electronic materials, including computers and memory sticks, were seized from him and he was threatened with prison if he did not cooperate. Miranda was traveling after visiting a US filmmaker Lauro Poitras, who has been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and The Guardian. 

A picture dated August 19, 2013 shows David Miranda (L) -- the Brazilian partner of Glenn Greenwald, a US journalist with Britain's Guardian newspaper who worked with intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to expose US mass surveillance programmes -- is pictured at Rio de Janeiro's Tom Jobim international airport upon his arrival. (AFP Photo / Marcelo Piu)

A security source told Reuters that Miranda’s detention was meant to send a message to those who received Snowden’s classified documents about how serious the UK is in trying to prevent further leaks. After the incident, Greenwald pledged he was going "to write much more aggressively than before" about government snooping. The US released a statement saying that British officials warned them about their decision to detain Miranda, although Washington denied its own involvement.

Deputy national security adviser in the UK Cabinet Office Oliver Robbins said that one file seized from Miranda included 58,000 "highly-classified UK intelligence documents," some of them "highly likely to describe techniques crucial in life saving counter-terrorist operations." Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger dismissed the statement as containing "unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims."

"The detention of Miranda has rightly caused international dismay because it feeds into a perception that the US and UK governments – while claiming to welcome the debate around state surveillance started by Snowden – are also intent on stemming the tide of leaks and on pursuing the whistleblower with a vengeance. That perception is right," Rusbridger wrote in his article on August 19.

He also revealed that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) demanded the return or destruction of files leaked by Snowden. UK authorities reportedly raided the Guardian’s office in London to destroy hard drives to stop future publications of leaks from the former NSA contractor. After Rusbridger refused to hand over the documents, government officials watched as computers which contained classified information passed on by Snowden were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements.