NSA Hacked into Emails and Phone Calls of the Presidents of Mexico and Brazil

Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Dilma Rousseff

Relations between the United States and Latin America’s two largest nations have become strained over news that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the communications of Brazil’s and Mexico’s presidents.


A report out of Brazil by Globo’s news program “Fantastico” said the NSA accessed emails, phone calls and text messages of the two foreign leaders. The story was based on documents lifted by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and given to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro and was listed as a co-contributor on the story.


The documents included an NSA slide dated June 2012 showing passages of written messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was running for office at the time. The messages revealed whom Peña Nieto was considering for his cabinet once he won the election.


Another NSA slide displayed communication patterns between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers.


The slides were prepared for an NSA internal study demonstrating how analysts could “intelligently” filter data collected by the agency’s secret Internet surveillance programs that were disclosed in other documents leaked by Snowden in June.


The revelation marked the second time since the Snowden affair began that the U.S. was shown to have allegedly spied on its Brazilian ally. Previously, it was reported that the NSA had accessed emails and phones of those living in South America’s most populous country.


The U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, was called in to explain to Brazilian officials whether the new allegations were true.


The revelation comes as Rousseff prepares for an official visit to Washington. Brazilian officials would not say if the controversy would cause the president to cancel her trip.


Another matter potentially in jeopardy is the pending sale of 36 F-18 fighter jets from the U.S. to Brazil. A Brazilian government official reportedly told Boeing, maker of the aircraft, that its chances of landing the more than $4 billion deal had been set back by the espionage scandal.


In Mexico, the presidential palace had no immediate comment on the story.


But Peña Nieto did state publicly in July following initial reports of NSA spying on Latin American nations that it would be “totally unacceptable” if it turned out that the Obama administration had snooped on its neighbor and largest business partner in the region.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S. Spied on Presidents of Brazil, Mexico – Report (by Anthony Boadle, Reuters)

Brazil Angered Over Report N.S.A. Spied on President (by Simon Romero and Randal C. Archibold, New York Times)

Scheme Documents Reveal U.S. Agency to Spy Dilma (Globo)

See-Secret Documents that Prove Espionage Dilma (Globo)

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

U.S. and Britain Eavesdropped on World Leaders at 2009 Summits (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Concerned U.S. Allies Want Privacy Guarantees in Wake of NSA Revelations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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