Canadian agency accused of spying held secret meetings with energy companies, leaked documents show

The agency alleged of spying on Brazil's mining ministry is also accused of holding secret meetings with energy companies.

Documents leaked earlier this week suggest that Canadian agents from the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) were tracking the e-mails and phone calls of Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry. The allegation made headlines around the world and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff demanded answers.

Documents obtained from Edward Snowden – the exiled US National Security Agency contractor – by the Guardian also show that energy corporations met regularly with the government agenices in Ottawa – twice a year since 2005.

According to the Guardian, a Natural Resources ministry official wrote in 2010 that the meetings were designed to develop "ongoing trusting relations" between the agencies and companies on an "off the record" basis.

See also: Canada's Prime Minister 'very concerned' about claims of espionage in Brazil 

The CSEC defended itself on Wednesday, saying it did not break any laws and that it only meets with energy firms to discuss security threats.

Canadian energy companies told the Financial Post that they do sometimes meet with the CSEC in order to "identify security threats" and "develop counter-measures to protect their operations." The threats include potential challenges from environmental groups, cyber-security issues and corporate espionage.

The RCMP and other federal agencies are also implicated.

Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law a the University of Ottawa, told the CBC's Jason Turnbull that it's still unclear why the agency would spy on Brazil. He speculated that "this almost feels like you're spying on behalf of some companies."

See the full Guardian report here.