World News

Brazil demands explanation from Canada over spying report

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff demanded on Monday that Canada explain a media report that said it spied on the Brazilian mines and energy ministry, and she called on the United States and its allies to stop spying over the Internet.

A Brazilian television report on Sunday said Canada’s electronic eavesdropping agency targeted the ministry that manages the South American nation’s vast mineral and oil resources. The report was based on documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Brazil “will demand explanations from Canada,” said Rousseff, via Twitter. Because many Canadian companies are active in Brazil’s mining industry, the spying could be a clear case of industrial espionage, Rousseff said.

“The United States and its allies must immediately stop their spying activity once and for all,” she tweeted.

The report broadcast on Sunday by TV Globo, which gave no evidence that any strategic data had been intercepted, follows earlier disclosures by the network that the NSA snooped on the emails and phone calls of Rousseff herself. The network also reported that the NSA hacked into the computers of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.

Angered by the espionage reports, Rousseff cancelled a state visit to Washington this month that was meant to cement a marked improvement in ties with the United States since she took office in 2011.

Rousseff denounced U.S. espionage as a violation of human rights and international law in the opening speech of the U.N. General Assembly last month.

“This is unacceptable between countries that are supposed to be partners. We repudiate this cyber warfare,” Rousseff said on Monday via Twitter.

She called the surveillance an attack on the sovereignty of nations and the privacy of their citizens and companies.

The Globo report said Canada’s secret signals intelligence agency, the Communication Security Establishment (CSE), used software called Olympia to map the ministry’s communications, including Internet traffic, emails and telephone calls.

The report provided no details on the alleged spying, other than a slide presented at an intelligence conference a year ago that mentioned Brazil’s mines and energy ministry. The conference of U.S., Canadian, British, Australian and New Zealand intelligence services was attended by Snowden, it said.

Globo said all the data on Brazil’s mineral reserves are public and available on the Internet.

The CSE, Canada’s equivalent to the NSA, said it did not comment on its foreign intelligence gathering activities.

The Globo report was co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist based in Brazil who first published documents leaked by Snowden.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Chris Reese