By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Allegations of Canadian spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy surfaced on Sunday, October 6th when Rio-based journalist, Glenn Greenwald, revealed new documents obtained by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden during the Globo TV program “Fantástico.”

Canada Accused of Spying on Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
New documents that show Canada spied on the Brazilian Energy and Mines Ministry sufaced last Sunday through Rio-based journalist, Glenn Greenwald, above, photo by Elza Fiúza/ABr.

Greenwald presented documents from the Canadian intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), containing detailed records of the Brazilian Ministry of Energy and Mines’ phone calls, emails and Internet usage, gathered through the use of a computer program named Olympia.

While information on Brazil’s general mineral reserves is public, the Ministry also stores vast amounts of private data inside a disaster-proof room covered in steel walls known as “The Safe.” The breach of this safe room is a major concern to several Brazilian officials, which have suggested this represents a move towards industrial espionage.

“The information can serve companies that compete in these auctions. I find it very serious,” Pinguelli Rosa, former president of Eletrobrás, the Brazilian government-controlled utilities company, told Globo’s G1. “They know what will happen in advance. This is a game of billions of dollars. It’s no little thing.” Brazil has some of the world’s largest reserves of pre-salt petroleum and iron ore.

“The reason that this is so newsworthy is that the U.S. and its allies love to say the only reason they are doing this kind of mass surveillance is that they want to stop terrorism and protect national security,” Greenwald said in an interview with major Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, on Monday. “But these documents make clear it is industrial and economic competition, it’s about mining resources and minerals.”

The newly-disclosed documents were again given to Greenwald by former U.S. NSA contractor turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Snowden first gained international attention back in June when he revealed classified information regarding American and British-run surveillance programs.

Since then, Greenwald has worked with Snowden to reveal allegations that the U.S. spied on Brazil’s largest company, Petrobras and the country’s top government officials, including President Dilma Rousseff.

Canada’s CSEC agency has not made comments on the spying allegations to the press. However, former director of CSEC, John Adams, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that “the reality is encryption is ubiquitous, it’s everywhere, so clearly if intelligence agencies are going to seek information, they’re going to be able to breach encryption…the reality is if you’re on the Internet, you literally might as well be on the front page of the Globe and Mail,” Adams said.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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

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