NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden may have been looking at Latin America as a possible destination for asylum -- but that was not the only link between the region and the U.S. spy agency. According to documents leaked by Snowden to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, the U.S. National Security Agency was spying on the cell phone of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and Enrique Peña Nieto, then candidate for president of Mexico and now the sitting president.
The Brazilian government said the interception was an unacceptable violation of sovereignty, while Mexico stopped short of such rhetoric and called for a probe.
“If these facts prove to be true, it would be unacceptable and could be called an attack on our country’s sovereignty,” said Brazilian Justice Minster José Eduardo Cardozo.
President Rousseff called an emergency meeting with diplomats and ministers to discuss how to proceed, after it came out that the NSA intercepted e-mails, calls and texts from Rousseff’s cell phone, as well as an undisclosed number of Brazilian officials.
“It is a violation of human rights, a violation of the Brazilian nation. This issue must be treated as extremely serious, and it should be a warning to all sovereign nations of the world so we are not under the power of anybody,” said Maria do Rosário, Human Rights Minister, to São Paulo’s newspaper O Globo.
Senator Ricardo Ferralco, head of the Brazilian Senate’s foreign relations committee, said that the committee had already decided to investigate the U.S. program’s focus on Brazil because of earlier revelations that the country was a top target of NSA spying.
“I feel a mixture of amazement and indignation. It seems like there are no limits. When the phone of the president is monitored, it’s hard to imagine what else might be happening,” Ferraco said in a press conference.
“It’s unacceptable that in a country like ours, where there is absolutely no climate of terrorism, that there is this type of spying,” he added.
Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, revealed his findings on Brazilian TV channel Globo’s news program “Fantástico.” The journalist also pointed out that the NSA spied on Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, even before he was elected in July 2012.
Unlike in the case of Brazil, the documents leaked by Snowden about Mexico did reveal the contents of the conversations intercepted by the NSA, including names of ministers before they were even announced by the government, informed Mexico City newspaper El Universal.
The U.S. Embassies in both countries refused to comment, saying that the issue will be handled by diplomatic channels.
Patricia covers Latin America for the International Business Times.
Before joining IBT in March 2013, she worked at BBC America in New York, La República in Lima...