Weeks after Glenn Greenwald first published allegations that U.S. officials were secretly monitoring all communications and Internet usage of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the Guardian journalist has been invited to testify before a Brazilian parliamentary commission next week.
If Greenwald does testify as planned, it will be the second time this summer the Brazil-based American reporter testified before members of the Brazilian government. In August, Greenwald testified about the leaked documents he obtained from U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Greenwald testified he had up to 20,000 secret U.S. government files in his possession. “The stories we have published are a small portion,” he said. “There will certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the U.S. government and allied governments … on how they have penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin America,” he said.
Others expected to testify include Minister of Communications Paulo Bernardo, Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo, Defense Minister Celso Amorim, Foreign Relations Minister Luiz Figueiredo, and Minister of the Institutional Security Office Jose Elito.
Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, who was detained for more than eight hours by British authorities when returning to Brazil from London, is also expected to testify.
In June, Greenwald became a household name by becoming the first journalist to share information obtained from Snowden. Since his first story was published in June, Greenwald has published a series of stories regarding the illegal and legal surveillance tactics used by both the U.S. and U.K. governments, including a report that the U.S. government had conducted electronic surveillance on almost every Latin American nation, including President Obama’s counterparts in Brazil and Mexico.
In addition to spying on members of the Brazilian government, a recent report from Greenwald alleged that the U.S. has also conducted surveillance on Brazil’s oil company, Petrobras. According to a report from the BBC, the Brazilian government wants to investigate whether or not the oil company’s communications were compromised, in order to determine whether or not a public auction of a major oil field in October was compromised.
Rousseff is scheduled to meet with Obama in Washington on Oct. 23 to discuss a possible $4 billion jet-fighter deal, cooperation on oil and biofuels technology and other commercial agreements.
During last week’s G-20 summit in Russia, President Obama reportedly tried to smooth things over with Rousseff, who has not hidden the fact that she is angry the U.S. spied on her communications, cancelling a trip to Washington earlier this year.
“I assured them that I take these allegations very seriously. I understand their concerns. I understand the concerns of the Mexican and Brazilian people; and that we will work with their teams to resolve what is a source of tension,” Obama said at a news conference.
Obama said that the U.S. government needed to “step back and review what it is that we’re doing” and determine whether or not the information U.S. intelligence officials gather is worth the violation of a persons privacy and civil liberties.
“It’s important for us, on the front end, to say, all right, are we actually going to get useful information here. And if not, if it’s not that important, should we be more constrained in how we use certain technical capabilities,” he said.
According to NPR, White House advisor Ben Rhodes said that Obama tried to explain to the Brazilian President last week that the U.S. values its relationship with Brazil and due to “the nature of intelligence efforts,” her communications may have also been collected.
As the Wall Street Journal reported,
Ms. Rousseff also asked for an apology and a written explanation after a Brazilian television news program reported that the National Security Agency had spied on her emails, phone calls and text messages, based on leaks provided by former NSA contractor. The U.S. has so far offered neither.
A senior Brazilian official said there was no ‘reasonable doubt’ that the state visit would take place next month. “No one would expect a partner to do this, and now it is up to the U.S. to explain,” he said. “Without a reasonable explanation, there could be damage to the bilateral relation.”
According to Reuters, Rousseff was the only foreign diplomat to receive an invitation to the White House this year, a move “meant to highlight a recent improvement in relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas.”
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