NSA Documents Imply U.S. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster and Joe Biden (photo: Pilar Olivares, Reuters)

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been accused of spying on Brazil’s state-run oil company, according to a news report from the South American country’s largest television network. The implication is that not all NSA espionage has to do with fighting terrorists or even criminals.


Globo TV’s program “Fantastico” aired a story over the weekend implying that the NSA pried into the business of Petrobras, also known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-run oil giant.


The story was based on NSA classified documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and provided to “Fantastico” by Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper who lives in Brazil.


Among the documents was a slide labeled “top secret” that showed Petrobras was one of several companies targeted by the NSA. The alleged spying focused on the oil company’s computer network, as well as on those belonging to Google and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a European firm that facilitates money transfers.


No explanation was offered in the segment for why Petrobras was targeted. But the “Fantastico” report said that the NSA materials were part of a presentation used to train new agents on ways to hack into computer systems.


The exposé followed another “Fantastico” story aired the week before that said the NSA had monitored the phone calls and emails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.


The latest disclosure was likely to create more friction between the Brazilian government and Washington, which was already strained over the news of Rousseff being targeted by American intelligence.


Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue, said the revelations of U.S. spying has angered many Brazilians.


“The revelations suggest that the U.S. went way too far, beyond any reasonable justification of containing security threats,” Shifter told The Washington Post. “Such an overreach is disrespectful and has touched a real nerve in Brazil, a country that prizes its sovereignty and is understandably sensitive about such abuses.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Brazilian TV Show Says U.S. Spied on State-Run Petrobras Oil Firm, Cites NSA Documents (by Juan Forero, Washington Post)

U.S. Government Spied on Brazil's Petrobras Oil Firm: Globo TV (Reuters)

Petrobras Foi Espionada Pelo Governo Americano, Comprovam Documentos (Globo TV)

NSA Hacked into Emails and Phone Calls of the Presidents of Mexico and Brazil (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

NSA Spying on Latin American Countries Included Targeting of Trade Secrets (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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