The National Security Agency's spy program targeted the communications of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents, and in the case of Mexico's leader accessed the content of emails before he was elected, the U.S. journalist who obtained secret documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden said Sunday.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, told Globo's news program Fantastico that a document dated June 2012 shows that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's emails were being read. The document's date is a month before Pena Nieto was elected.
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The document on which Greenwald based the report includes communications from Pena Nieto indicating who he would like to name to some government posts among other information. It's not clear if the spying continues.
As for Brazil's leader, the June 2012 document "doesn't include any of Dilma's specific intercepted messages, the way it does for Nieto," Greenwald told The Associated Press in an email. "But it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats."
The U.S. targeting mapped out the aides with whom Rousseff communicated and went a level further by tracking patterns of how those aides communicated with one another and also third parties, according to the document.
'If the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil's sovereignty.'—Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo
Calls to Rousseff's office and a spokeswoman were not answered. Messages sent to a spokesman for Pena Nieto weren't immediately returned. Mexico's Foreign Ministry said it had no comment.
Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo told the newspaper O Globo that "if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil's sovereignty."
"This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the U.S. and Brazil have," he added.
Brazil is NSA's largest Latin American target, says Greenwald
In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles in O Globo that said documents leaked by Snowden indicate Brazil was the largest target in Latin America for the NSA program, which collected data on billions of emails and calls flowing through Brazil.
The Brazilian government denounced the NSA activities outlined in the earlier reports.
Greenwald reported then that the NSA collected the data through an undefined association between U.S. and Brazilian telecommunications companies. He said he could not verify which Brazilian companies were involved or if they were aware their links were being used to collect the data.
Greenwald began writing stories based on material leaked by Snowden in May, mostly for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.
Before news of the NSA program broke, the White House announced that Rousseff would be honoured with a state dinner in October during a trip to the U.S., the only such full state dinner scheduled this year for a foreign leader. The move highlighted the U.S. desire to build on improved relations since Rousseff took the presidency on Jan. 1, 2011.
Rousseff's office said last week that there were no plans to scrap the state dinner because of the NSA program.
Greenwald's partner held at British airport
The latest revelations were sure to increase tensions, coming on the heels of last month's detention of Greenwald's domestic partner, Brazilian citizen David Miranda, who was held for nearly nine hours at London's Heathrow airport.
British authorities stopped him as he was transiting through the airport, citing their ability to do so under anti-terrorism legislation. The U.S. government was notified beforehand that Miranda was to be stopped as he returned home to Brazil after visiting Germany, where he met with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who works with Greenwald on the NSA stories. Miranda had some of the pair's NSA documents leaked by Snowden on memory disks.
Last week, senior British national security adviser Oliver Robbins offered a sweeping view of the government concerns about those documents before Britain's High Court, saying the 58,000 classified British documents were "highly likely" to describe techniques used in counter-terrorism operations and could reveal the identities of British intelligence officers abroad.
Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger dismissed the statement as containing "unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims," and questioned the danger, arguing that the government had done little to address the issue before Miranda's detention.
After Miranda's detention, Greenwald promised he was going "to write much more aggressively than before" about government snooping.