| BRASILIA, Sept 9
BRASILIA, Sept 9 Reports that the United States
spied on Brazilian oil company Petrobras, if proven, would be
tantamount to industrial espionage and have no security
justification, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said on Monday.
Brazil's Globo television network reported on Sunday that
the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into the computer
networks of Petrobras and other companies, including Google Inc.
, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor
The report came as Brazil is preparing to auction rights to
tap some of the largest oil finds in the world in recent
decades, deposits trapped under a salt layer off its Atlantic
coast. State-run Petrobras, Brazil's largest company
and a source of national pride, made the discoveries in recent
years and will be a mandatory partner in developing all of the
new deep-sea fields.
The Globo report added tension to relations between
Washington and Brasilia already strained by previous disclosures
of NSA spying on internet communications in Brazil, including
email messages and phone calls of Rousseff herself.
An angry Rousseff has repeatedly demanded an explanation. At
stake is a state visit by Rousseff to the White House on Oct. 23
to meet President Barack Obama and discuss a possible $4 billion
jet fighter deal, cooperation on oil and biofuels technology, as
well as other commercial agreements.
"If the facts reported by the press are confirmed, it will
be evident that the motive for the spying attempts is not
security or the war on terrorism but strategic economic
interests," Rousseff said in a statement.
The U.S. government has said the secret internet
surveillance programs disclosed by Snowden in June are aimed at
monitoring suspected terrorist activity and do look at the
content of private messages or phone calls.
PETROBAS NOT A SECURITY THREAT
"Clearly, Petrobras is not a threat to the security of any
country," Rousseff said, adding that the company is one of the
world's largest oil assets and belongs to the Brazilian people.
Brazil will take steps to protect itself, its government and
its companies, Rousseff said, without elaborating. She said such
espionage and interception of data were illegal and had no place
in the relations between two democratic nations.
On Friday, Obama met with Rousseff during a summit of
leaders of the world's largest economies in St. Petersburg,
Russia, and pledged to look into the reports that the NSA had
snooped on her personal communications and those of Mexican
President Enrique Pena Nieto when he was still a candidate.
She said Obama had promised her a reply by
Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo is
scheduled to meet in Washington on the same day with Obama's
national security adviser Susan Rice, Brazilian officials said.
Globo did not say when the alleged spying took place, what
data might have been gathered or what exactly the NSA may have
been seeking. The television report showed slides from an NSA
presentation, dated May 2012, that it said was used to show new
agents how to spy on private computer networks.
In addition to Google and Petrobras the presentation
suggested the NSA had tapped into systems operated by France's
foreign ministry and the Society for Worldwide Interbank
Financial Telecommunication, an international bank cooperative
known as Swift through which many cross-border financial
transactions take place.
Brazilian officials said the spying report would not affect
the upcoming auction of rights to extract oil from the giant
Libra oil field, which will go ahead as scheduled on Oct. 21.
Some Brazilian politicians have suggested that U.S.
companies should be excluded from the bidding, but experts said
that is legally impossible according to the terms of the
Libra has estimated reserves of between 8 and 12 billion
barrels of oil, according to Brazilian oil regulator ANP.
Brazil is counting on the new oil production to consolidate
its emergence as a world economic power and take the country's
development to a new level. Rousseff signed a law on Monday that
designates the royalties from the new oil production contracts
for health and education programs.