By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The United States Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, was summoned on Monday to a meeting with Brazil’s Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo over allegations that the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) monitored millions of emails and telephone calls made in Brazil over the past decade.
Shannon is reported to have denied the allegations, but Bernardo said he was “in no doubt” that Brazilian citizens and institutions had been targeted by U.S. surveillance programs.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Shannon said the U.S. surveillance program “had not been presented correctly,” without elaborating on his comment.
Other than the ambassador’s brief comments today, the U.S. has said only that it would discuss the matter through official channels.
President Dilma Rousseff has demanded an investigation and said that, if true, the allegations could amount to violation of sovereignty and human rights and would raise the issue with the United Nations.
The allegations were originally published on Sunday in O Globo newspaper on the basis of information allegedly compiled by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently on the run from the U.S. authorities and seeking political asylum. Offers have already been made by Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua – all fierce critics of U.S. policy.
The Federal Police and Anatel, Brazil’s telecommunications regulator, have been asked to investigate the circumstances involving the alleged monitoring and whether it happened with the support of any companies operating in Brazil.
Thomas Shannon is set to leave the position as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil later this year, most likely after President Dilma Rousseff has made a rare state visit to the United States – the first official visit by a Brazilian leader in nearly twenty years.
Reports of U.S. spying on its European allies has caused tension between European nations and the U.S. in recent weeks as well.
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.