Canada’s Prime Minister ‘very concerned’ about claims of espionage in Brazil

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, said Tuesday he was “very concerned” about allegations that one of the country’s spy agencies, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), had snooped on Brazil’s ministry of mines and energy and the country’s largest energy company.

Speaking in Indonesia, where Harper was attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, he said Canadian officials are “reaching out” to their Brazilian counterparts.

While refusing to comment on potential impacts of the report, Harper repeated three times in the space of one minute that he was “concerned about this story and some of the parts around it. That said, you should know I cannot comment on national security. It’s that simple,” according to Canada.com.

Yesterday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff summoned the Canadian ambassador to express her “indignation” over the alleged espionage unveiled by Fantastico, an investigative news program.

The Brazilian TV report, which did not indicate whether emails were read or phone calls listened to, was based on documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

According to Canada’ Department of Foreign Affairs website, Brazil is currently Ottawa’s 11th largest trading partner, with $2.6 billion in exports, including potash, mineral fuels and oils, machinery and paper. Imports, which amount to $4 billion, include mineral fuels and oils, sugars, machinery, iron ore and steel.

Last year, the emerging South American economic powerhouse was Canada’s seventh highest source of foreign direct investment, with almost $16 billion in cumulative stocks.

Image: Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, addressing the world’s media at the London Summit 2009, from Flickr