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By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Minister of External Relations Antonio Patriota has reiterated demands for urgent clarifications from the United States over allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) – the country’s communications surveillance agency – intercepted millions of Brazilians’ emails and calls over the last decade.

Brazil Fears Sensitive Data Leak, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota is still waiting for answers from the U.S. over the spying allegations, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

Fears have also been voiced that sensitive information regarding military purchases and oil reserves could have been intercepted.

Patriota said on Monday that a “number of clarifications” had already been provided by the U.S., but that the official response had been “insufficient.”

Last week, Brazil urged the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Brasília to explain the allegations. A cross-ministry technical group has now been assembled to draw up a list of specific questions.

The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, has already provided some answers over the U.S. government program and denied the extent of the operations alleged in the original O Globo report.

However, Mr. Shannon has since said he has not been given further authorization by the U.S. government to give clarifications to the Senate over the allegations.

Today (Tuesday, July 16th), the Senate will hear from Glenn Greenwald, a U.S. citizen and journalist living in Rio, who has been responsible for exposing information gathered by Snowden about the United States’ widespread monitoring programs, including in Brazil and Latin America.

His reports in Britain’s The Guardian and Brazil’s O Globo newspapers have caused consternation toward the U.S. from a range of world leaders. It was also revealed on Monday that Brazil would like to interview Snowden, who is currently in Russia with no valid travel documents to enable him to leave, if he were to come to Venezuela – one of three Latin countries to have granted political asylum.

Brazil, which rejected Snowden’s asylum application, is said to be interested in quizzing the former NSA contractor over whether information was collected in two sensitive areas: Brazil’s expected contract with Boeing for F/A18 Super Hornet fighter jets and the country’s vast pre-salt oil reserves.

Brazil was “enormously worried over the possibility that strategic information has been leaked,” Patriota said.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.

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