Brazil's foreign affairs minister summoned Canada's ambassador to the country to explain spying allegations, a Canadian official confirmed to CBC News Monday.
The summons, a serious diplomatic measure, comes the day after a Brazilian television report said the Communications Security Establishment Canada used phone and email metadata to map the communications of Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.
Brazil's Foreign Affairs Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado summoned Jamal Khokhar, Canada’s ambassador in Brasilia, on Monday.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tweeted Monday that her country's Foreign Affairs Department would demand an explanation from Canada regarding the allegations, Reuters reported.
Canadian officials have refused to respond to questions by reporters about the allegations by TV Globo that the Communications Security Establishment Canada used phone and email metadata to map the communications of Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird confirmed that Khokhar met with Brazil's foreign affairs minister, but wouldn't say he had been summoned.
"It is my understanding that Canada’s ambassador to Brazil spoke with the foreign ministry today, as he does on a regular basis," Rick Roth said in an emailed statement to CBC News.
"I won’t get into the details of the meeting, as we discuss our bilateral relations between governments, not through the media."
In an interview with CBC Radio's As It Happens, the reporter who collaborated with the news agency on the story suggested more details will surface.
Glenn Greenwald, who reported on spying by the U.S. National Security Agency, said he has more documents relating to Canadian spying around the world.
"There's a lot of other documents about Canadians spying on ordinary citizens, on allied governments, on the world, and their co-operation with the United States government, and the nature of that co-operation that I think most Canadian citizens will find quite surprising, if not shocking, because it's all done in secret and Canadians are not aware of it," Greenwald said.
Rousseff tweeted in Portuguese on Monday that, because many Canadian companies are active in Brazil's mining industry, the spying could be a clear case of industrial espionage, Reuters reports.
"The United States and its allies must immediately stop their spying activity once and for all," she tweeted.
"This is unacceptable between countries that are supposed to be partners. We repudiate this cyberwarfare," Rousseff said via Twitter, according to the news service.
She also called the surveillance an attack on the sovereignty of nations.
Canada: no comment on spying
A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson wouldn't address the allegations, reported Sunday based on information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
"We do not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities. Under the law, this organization cannot target Canadians," Julie Di Mambro said an in emailed statement to CBC News.
A spokeswoman for the listening agency echoed that.
CSEC "does not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities. Under the law, this organization cannot target Canadians," Lauri Sullivan said in an email to CBC News.
Brazil and Canada have several industries that compete with each other, including mining and aerospace. Brazil is Latin America's biggest country.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper would neither confirm nor deny the allegations when asked to respond to the report late Sunday night.
The "CSEC does not comment on its specific foreign intelligence activities or capabilities," said Harper's communications director, Jason MacDonald.
Brazil major trading partner for Canada
The allegations could affect Canada's relations with Brazil, a major economic power. When similar allegations surfaced about the NSA spying on Rousseff, she cancelled a state visit to the U.S.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs calls Brazil a "priority market" and "enticing," because of its mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The country is Canada's 11th largest trading partner with $2.6 billion in Canadian exports to Brazil, including fertilizers, mineral fuels and oils, machinery and paper, according to the department. Brazil was also Canada's seventh highest source of foreign direct investment in 2012, with nearly $16 billion in stocks.
Lawrence Herman, a trade expert with extensive experience in international affairs, said it's no surprise that intelligence agencies gather information, or that CSEC does the same.
"It's part of the game. Whether it will seriously disrupt Canada-Brazil business and trade relations remains to be seen, but it would appear that the Brazilians aren't too happy about that," he said, referring to Rousseff's reaction to the NSA allegations.