Brazil leader`s visit to US in doubt amid spy row

Last Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 12:55

Brasilia: A row over alleged US spying on the leaders of Latin America`s economic powerhouses escalated on Thursday with Brazil`s President halting preparations for a Washington trip and Mexico demanding an investigation.

The governments of both nations have demanded explanations from the United States over reports that the National Security Agency snooped on the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto.

Rousseff and Pena Nieto both spoke with Obama on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, four days after the report by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has access to documents leaked by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Mexican leader said he had spoken with Obama by telephone before the meeting and that he had secured "a commitment that this investigation will take place".

"The Mexican government has made it clear that there must be an investigation and that there must be sanctions if there were acts that were outside international agreements and outside the law," Pena Nieto told Russia`s RT television.

A senior US official said in a brief statement that Obama met with Rousseff between the G20`s plenary session and dinner.

The reported spying has raised the prospect that Rousseff could cancel a state visit to Washington on October 23.

A spokeswoman for Rousseff announced that a trip to Washington this Saturday by a delegation to prepare for her visit had been scrapped, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman, saying that Brazil was "waiting for a formal explanation from the US government".

The ministry spokesman said the advance team`s mission was "postponed" and that "the expectation is it will take place" later.

US national security spokesman Ben Rhodes told reporters in Saint Petersburg that the White House had not been informed of any delay to planning for Rousseff`s visit Washington and planned talks with Obama.

"I`m not aware of that. I know that they are seeing each other," he said.

"I addressed this earlier today, in terms of our commitment to work with them, to understand their concern around the NSA issue, that`s what we`ll continue to do."

The October visit would be Rousseff`s first to Washington, and the first state visit by a foreign leader this year.

Greenwald, who is based in Rio de Janeiro, reported on Sunday that the NSA was using a program to access all Internet content Rousseff visited online.

He told Globo television that the NSA was trying to better understand Rousseff`s methods of communication and interlocutors.

The NSA program allegedly allowed agents to access the entire communications network of the president and her staff, including telephone, Internet and social network exchanges, the Rio-based journalist said.

He also said some of Pena Nieto`s e-mail, phone calls and text messages were intercepted, including communications in which he discussed potential cabinet members before he was elected in July 2012.

On Monday, both Brazil and Mexico summoned the US ambassadors in their respective countries to demand an explanation for the latest disclosures.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luis Figueiredo said that, if proven, the report that Rousseff was spied on "represents an unacceptable and impermissible violation of Brazilian sovereignty."

Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said the scope of the espionage was broader and more serious than initially thought.

"All of the explanations given (by the United States) since the start of these episodes are revealed to be false," he said on Tuesday.

AFP



First Published: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 12:55

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