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Brazil May Seek to Speak With Snowden as Spy Charges Spread

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July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s government said it may contact fugitive former security contractor Edward Snowden as it probes allegations the U.S. monitored phone calls and e-mail in Latin America’s largest economy.

“Mr. Snowden’s participation in an investigation is absolutely relevant and pertinent,” Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said in Senate testimony to discuss allegations that were first reported by O Globo newspaper last week. “I don’t rule out the hypothesis of seeking out contact with Mr. Snowden, something that doesn’t need to be carried out on Brazilian territory. It can be done another way.”

Patriota’s interest in speaking to Snowden comes as governments across Latin America, even those with close ties to the U.S. such as Colombia and Mexico, demand explanations about the extent of American surveillance activities in the region.

In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff said today the government is awaiting the results of probes by the police and telecommunications regulator to determine what steps to take next. U.S. surveillance activities may also be discussed when the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and other South American nations gather July 12 in Uruguay for a summit of the Mercosur trade bloc, Patriota told lawmakers.

O Globo reported July 6 that Brazil was a priority target of U.S. monitoring alongside countries including China, Pakistan and Iran. The article was co-written by American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, and based on documents he obtained from Snowden while breaking the spying story for London’s Guardian newspaper.

Targets

In a follow-up article, Greenwald wrote that Mexico and Colombia were also targets of U.S. surveillance in recent years, with the latter taking on increased importance when Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez died in March.

Patriota told lawmakers today that he understands from press reports that the former defense contractor has accepted Venezuela’s asylum offer and that the logistics of his travel are being worked out with Russia. Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow since arriving June 23 from Hong Kong.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joshua Goodman in Bogota at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net; Mario Sergio Lima in Brasilia Newsroom at mlima11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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