The U.S. government spied on Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Globo TV reported yesterday, citing classified documents obtained by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The television network’s “Fantastico” news magazine, which reported a week ago that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted phone calls and e-mails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, aired slides last night from an NSA presentation from 2012 that explained the agency’s capability to penetrate private networks of companies such as Petrobras, as the oil company is known, and Google Inc. In a written statement, Rousseff said Petrobras is no threat to any country.
“As such, if the allegations broadcast by the press are confirmed, it would be evident that the motive for attempted violation and spying are not security or fighting terrorism, but economic and strategic interests,” Rousseff said. “The Brazilian government is working to obtain clarifications from the U.S. about all violations.”
The spying allegations have cast doubt on whether a scheduled state visit by Rousseff will take place as scheduled in October. Rousseff told reporters at the Group of 20 summit in Russia last week that her visit to the U.S. next month is still pending as U.S. President Barack Obama works to ensure that spying allegations won’t harm the countries’ mutual interests. Brazilian officials have denounced the case as a violation of their nation’s sovereignty.
One slide in the presentation listed “economic” as an intention for spying, as well as diplomatic and political reasons. None of the documents revealed the motivation for the alleged spying on Petrobras, according to Globo.
The NSA was able to spy on French diplomats by tapping into an internal network at the European country’s Foreign Ministry. The presentation also showed the NSA was capable of breaching communications between international banks using their SWIFT network.
U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald collaborated with Globo News to produce the story. Greenwald first presented accusations that the NSA intercepted phone calls and e-mails from Rousseff on Globo television Sept. 1. He has said the information revealed this month was part of the first batch of documents he received from Snowden when they met in Hong Kong.
The U.S. does gather intelligence on “economic and financial matters,” said Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in a statement issued in Washington yesterday. “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of -- or give intelligence we collect to -- U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Clapper said in the statement.
Petrobras said in a statement that it has highly-qualified systems to protect its internal computer network, and all communication between the network and the external world is monitored. While internal information is encrypted, attacks on Petrobras will require the company to make further investments in technology and data protection, the statement said.
Rousseff earlier said U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice plans to contact her Sept. 11. Brazil intends to raise the issue of Internet governance at the United Nations and other international organizations, Rousseff added.
Petrobras is seeking to develop oil fields in the so-called pre-salt region in deep waters off the coast of Brazil that hold the world’s biggest petroleum discoveries this century.