BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Disclosures alleging that the United States has collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in Latin America’s biggest country will not affect Brazil-U.S. relations, the head of Brazil’s joint congressional committee on intelligence said Wednesday.
Congressman Nelson Pellegrino told foreign correspondents in Brasilia that despite Brazil’s strong repudiation of the U.S. information gathering activities in Brazil “the good relations we have with the United States will not be interrupted.”
“We have sent Washington a clear message that we are interested in maintaining good relations, but that we will not accept these kinds of practices,” he said. “We cannot accept that a country spies another, on its citizens, its companies and its authorities.”
He said President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to Washington October was still on and that it would not be affected by the recent disclosures.
The O Globo newspaper reported last week that information released by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden showed Brazil is the top target in Latin America for the NSA’s massive intelligence-gathering effort aimed at monitoring communications around the world.
Snowden’s disclosures indicate that the NSA widely collects phone and Internet “metadata” — logs of message times, addresses and other information rather than the content of the messages. The documents have indicated that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. phone customers, and has gathered data on phone and Internet usage outside the U.S., including those people who use any of nine U.S.-based internet providers such as Google.
Earlier, O Globo reported that in Brazil, the NSA collected data through an association between U.S. and Brazilian telecommunications companies. It said it could not verify which Brazilian companies were involved or if they were even aware their links were being used to collect the data.
The Brazilian government is investigating the disclosures and the alleged links with telecommunications firms with a Brazil presence.
Congress has asked U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon for explanations.
President Dilma Rousseff said any such activity infringed upon the nation’s sovereignty, and that Brazil would take the issue up at the United Nations.
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