Brazil summons Canadian ambassador over spying allegations
Published Monday, October 7, 2013 1:19PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 7, 2013 10:57PM EDT
Brazil summoned the Canadian ambassador Monday to express its “indignation” over allegations Canada has spied on the South American country’s ministry of mines and energy.
The meeting took place Monday morning in Brasilia, the day after a TV news report on the allegations.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had earlier asked her foreign minister to demand clarifications from the Canadian government.
Fantastico, an investigative news program on Brazil’s Globo TV, reported that Canadian spies from Communications Security Establishment Canada had used email and phone metadata to map internal communications within Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry through a software program called Olympia.
According to the CSEC website, the agency's mandate is to "acquire and use information from the global information infrastructure for the purpose of providing foreign intelligence, in accordance with Government of Canada intelligence priorities."
On Monday, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the Canadian ambassador was summoned to "transmit the indignation of the Brazilian government and demand explanations."
Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told Globo that "Canada has interests in Brazil, and above all in the mining sector. I can’t say if the spying served corporate interests or other groups."
The Brazilian TV report, which did not indicate whether emails were read or phone calls listened to, was based on documents that appeared to be CSEC PowerPoint presentations.
One of the authors of the Globo report was Glenn Greenwald, who has spent the past four months reporting on leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald is based in Rio de Janeiro, and also works with The Guardian newspaper in London.
In an email to CTV News, Lauri Sullivan, Senior Communications Advisor for the CSEC, said the agency "does not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities, and under the law, this organization cannot target Canadians."
On Monday, Rousseff tweeted that espionage is “unacceptable among countries that claim to be partners,” and that the foreign minister “will demand explanations from Canada,”
In a tweet, Rousseff said industrial espionage appears to be behind the alleged spying.
On Monday afternoon, Keith Murphy, CEO of Defence Intelligence, an Ottawa-based information security company, told Power Play’s Don Martin that he believes economic interests are at the root of the alleged espionage.
“What we’ll probably never be told is whether this was going to be passed off to corporate interest or whether it was strictly for government use,” he said.
He added that the alleged collected data is also being shared with the United States.
“It’s scary a little bit the level of co-operation between the agencies,” Murphy said. “Now we’ve got solid proof from some of the slides that were released to say that not only had Canada penetrated these systems, but they are actively sharing that data with the U.S.”
Andrew Cohen, a professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University, told CTV News Channel, that while the extent of Canada’s involvement isn’t known at this point, this isn't a surprising development.
"The idea that we might be doing this shouldn’t be surprising anymore," Cohen said. "We are emerging as a player in the world, with serious interests – economic, political, commercial in places – and this is what big boys and girls do, and so I’m not terribly surprised, but I don’t know the extent of this – nobody does."
But NDP leader Thomas Mulcair expressed outrage over the espionage claims.
“The whole story doesn’t make any sense. We do have an intelligence gathering capability as we should, but it’s not meant to be spying industrially on a country -- especially on a country that we’re supposed to be having good relations with,” Mulcair said.
“We should come clean as to what we have been doing. The Brazilian president calling to the Canadian government to account is serious, having our ambassador called in as he was today is serious, so we’ve got to give the proper reaction,” Mulcair added.
According to Canada’ Department of Foreign Affairs website, Brazil is currently Canada’s 11th largest trading partner, with $2.6 billion in exports, including fertilizers, mineral fuels and oils, machinery and paper. Imports, which amount to $4 billion, include mineral fuels and oils, sugars, machinery, iron and steel.
And in 2012, Brazil was Canada’s seventh highest source of foreign direct investment, with almost $16 billion in cumulative stocks.
In a news conference on Monday, Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson refused to comment on foreign intelligence, but said he is confident that Canada’s relationship with Brazil will remain strong.
In June, Canada deployed 34 peacekeeping troops to Haiti to work with a Brazilian battalion as part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Haiti.
"This is part of a wide range of activities that we have with Brazil and I have complete confidence that will continue," Nicholson said in response to the mission.
With files from The Canadian Press
A reportagem aponta para interesses canadenses na área de mineração. O Itamaraty vai exigir explicações do Canadá.— Dilma Rousseff (@dilmabr) October 7, 2013