Canada spied on Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry: Snowden

Edward Snowden. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian television OGlobo aired Sunday night a program showing that U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked documents that reveal Canadian spy agencies tracked the country’s Mines and Energy Ministry e-mails and phone calls.

According to the report, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) used a software application —Olympia— to map the ministry’s communications with third parties for an unknown period of time.

Snowden said he obtained the documents at a June 2012 meeting of intelligence analysts from the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, a group said to be called the “Five Eyes.”

Based on those records, OGlobo said Canadians also spied on the ministry’s phone communications to other countries, including the Ecuador-based Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE).

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff tweeted Monday that the spying was “unacceptable among countries that claim to be partners.” She added she would demand answers from Canada about the allegations.

President Dilma Rousseff


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Asked about the issue by CBC News, the press Secretary for Canada’s Defence Minister, Rob Nicholson, said the office doesn’t comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities.

“Under the law, this organization cannot target Canadians,” Julie Di Mambro told CBC on Monday.

However, the CSEC is not foreign to economic espionage, as former Carleton University Professor, Martin Rudner, explains in a research paper published in 2000. He notes the agency began recruiting economists and business analysts in the mid-1990s.

Brazil, South America’s largest country, and Canada have several industries that compete with each other, including mining and aerospace.

“There are many Canadian businesses interested in doing business in our country. If that is where the interest in spying comes from, to help certain business interests, I cannot say,” Mining and Energy Minister Edilson Lobao told OGlobo.

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.

Earlier leaks by Snowden, also run by the Brazilian TV station, accused Americans of spying on President Rousseff and on the state-run oil company Petrobras. The news made Brazil’s leader cancel a state visit to the US in September.

Whistleblower Snowden, 30, is wanted in the US on espionage charges, but is currently living in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum.

Image: Map of Brazil’s communications screen grab, as shown by Fantastico, from OGlobo.