Brazilian lawmakers press Greenwald for greater detail on Snowden's NSA leaks
Brazilian lawmakers indicated that, in lieu of direct teleconferences with Edward Snowden to gain further insight into allegations of NSA spying in their country, they may seek to seize documents now held by American journalist Glenn Greenwald.
10 October, 2013
On Wednesday Greenwald spoke to Brazilian senators currently investigating evidence of US as well as British and Canadian espionage in the Latin American country.
The legislators are part of a probe into potential foreign surveillance -- the Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, or CPI -- called into action by President Dilma Rousseff in the wake of initial news reports alleging that even the president’s online communication had been intercepted.
Greenwald, who appeared along with his partner David Miranda, a Brazilian national, broached several topics during the hearing, including the possibility of granting asylum to NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.
So far, Brazil has been vague as to whether it would seriously consider extending Snowden, who is currently residing in Russia, an offer of political asylum.
"There are many nations saying, 'We're glad to be learning all this information,' but almost nobody wants to protect the person responsible for letting the world discover it," Greenwald told the panel.
In the meantime, Brazilian legislators seem eager to find out the extent of foreign surveillance on the country in greater detail.
To that end, the country’s government -- specifically, the CPI inquiry -- is now seeking to establish teleconferencing sessions with Snowden.
Glenn Greenwald (R), American journalist who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, arrives with partner David Miranda to testify in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, established to investigate allegations of spying by United States on Brazil, in Brasilia October 9, 2013 (Reuters / Ueslei Marcelino)
Asked by the commission to turn over documents obtained through the whistleblower Greenwald refused, citing the need for a separation between journalism and government. His partner, Miranda, also cited that divulging the documents would constitute an “act of treason” and prevent Greenwald from entering the US again.
One Brazilian Senator, Ricardo Ferraço, went so far as to suggest that the government commission seek the authority of the country’s courts to seize documents now held by Greenwald if such communication with Snowden proved unfeasible.
Unlike allegations of NSA surveillance in the US, coverage of the agency’s activities in Brazil have taken on a broader scope, and in particular centered on the country’s economy.
Greenwald himself has shaped the narrative of Snowden’s disclosures through his testimony to Brazil’s government, as well as his work with the O Globo newspaper and Rede Globo’s news television.
In August, the journalist told Brazil’s government that alleged American espionage in Brazil was centered on gaining economic advantages rather than on any national security concerns.
"We now have several denunciations that show that the spy program is not about terrorism. It is about increasing the power of the American government," Greenwald told senators on Wednesday, speaking in Portuguese.
In the most recent report last Sunday, Greenwald said on Globo network television that Canadian spies had targeted Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry, intercepting the metadata of phone calls and emails passing through the ministry.
The impact of the steady stream of surveillance allegations on Brazil has been swift. Last month Petrobras announced that it would be investing $9.5 billion over the next five years to heighten its data security.
Meanwhile, Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo announced that the country’s government was pursuing legislation requiring domestic data exchanges to use locally made equipment.
Brazil to host global internet summit in ongoing fight against NSA surveillance
Brazilian leaders have announced they plan to host an international conference on internet governance next year, a declaration that comes after the nation has lobbied without success to change NSA policies used by the US to monitor Brazil.
10 October, 2013
President Dilma Rousseff, after consulting with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), announced via Twitter a conference would be held in April.
“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of government, industry, civil society and academia,” she wrote tweeted Wednesday.
The ongoing leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that Brazil has become a favorite target of the National Security Agency since the US intelligence program launched the PRISM electronic surveillance program in 2007. Along with monitoring the online activity of Brazilian citizens, the NSA has quietly kept watch on diplomatic activity and the South American nation’s oil giant Petrobras.
Rousseff has since put off a scheduled state visit to the US and used her speech at the United Nations to condemn what she deemed “a breach of international law and an affront” to Brazil’s independence.
“Without the right of privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and so there is no actual democracy,” she said, adding that “without respect for [a nation’s] sovereignty, there is no basis for proper relations among nations. Those who want a strategic partnership cannot possibly allow recurring and illegal action to go on as if they were an ordinary practice.”
The issue has simmered in Latin America, where Rousseff has made it clear that Brazil will not stand for such activity. Her own personal communications with presidential aides and other private phone information was intercepted, according to the daily O Globo.
Rousseff’s comments in front of the international delegation at the UN were praised both domestically and abroad.
“She spoke for all of us that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” Fadi Chehade told Agence France-Presse. “The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”
Chehade’s ICANN is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization responsible for the coordination of global internet systems, including international IP addresses, root name servers, and the introduction of new domain methods, among others.