WikiLeaks says the U.S. spied on officials in Brazil, not just its President
Brazilian official says information is "very similar" to that of the Snowden leak in 2013
Brazil's President said she has assurances from President Obama that spying has stopped
WikiLeaks released a list of 29 Brazilian phone numbers of government and finance officials it says were “selected for intensive interception” by the U.S. National Security Agency. The group said the release shows that spying by the U.S. in the South American nation went further than eavesdropping on its President.
But there was no indication in the list that the spying took place more recently than 2013, and Brazilian officials brushed it aside as old news.
“The revelations of today are very similar to the ones that were released earlier,” Brazil’s minister of public affairs told CNN, referring to information leaked by security contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 that revealed American authorities had been spying on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff’s cell phone and e-mail communications, as well as those of many of her advisers and oil giant Petrobras.
The WikiLeaks revelation comes just four days after Brazil’s President Rousseff visited the White House in an effort to improve relations with the United States. Brazil had canceled a U.S. state visit in 2013 because of the spying scandal.
On Tuesday, Rousseff said things had changed and she had assurances from President Barack Obama and the U.S. government that intrusive spying on friendly countries had stopped.
“I believe President Obama,” she said. “He has told me that should he ever need nonpublic information about Brazil, he would just pick up the phone and call me.”
In a statement Saturday, Rousseff reaffirmed her position, saying she considers the spy episode with the U.S. “overcome.”
“We’ve turned the page and are moving forward” in relations with Brazil, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters.
WikiLeaks said the newest document “proves that not only President Dilma Rousseff was targeted but also her assistant, her secretary, her chief of staff, her Palace office and even the phone in her Presidential jet.”
The spying went beyond government and included economic targets such as the governor of Brazil’s Central Bank, according to WikiLeaks, which redacted the last four digits of the newly released phone numbers.
The group’s founder, Julian Assange, who has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for more than two years, said the information released “shows the US has a long way to go to prove its dragnet surveillance on ‘friendly’ governments is over.”
The White House had no comment on the report Saturday.
Earlier this week, WikiLeaks also published more data showing past spying activities by the United States against France, Germany and the European Union.
The French Defense Council suggested this week that it was well aware of the allegations, but said it won’t tolerate “any action jeopardizing its security and the protection of its interests.”
On Friday, France rejected a request from Assange for “protection” after he published an open letter in the national newspaper Le Monde.
Assange is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about 2010 allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another.
CNN’s Elwyn Lopez and journalist Marcia Reverdosa in Brazil contributed to this story