Brazil slams NSA snooping on state oil giant

Rousseff accuses U.S. of spying for economic gain

AFP-JIJI, AP

President Dilma Rousseff on Monday accused the United States of spying on oil giant Petrobras for its own “economic and strategic” reasons — not for national security.

The latest allegations of online snooping by the National Security Agency emerged Sunday night in a Globo TV report based on documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden that said NSA had targeted Brazilian oil giant Petrobras — world leader in deep-water oil exploration. That came a week after a report on Globo indicated that the communications of Rousseff herself were intercepted by the spy agency.

The new Globo report also said Google and the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, an organization better known as SWIFT that oversees international bank transfers thought to be secure transactions, were targeted by the NSA.

The report gave no indication about what information the NSA may have obtained from the companies. All three companies are included in an NSA training manual for new agents on how to target the private computer networks of big companies, the report said.

“If the facts in the report are confirmed, then it’s evident that the motive for the . . . espionage is not security or to fight terrorism, but economic and strategic interests,” Rousseff said.

Rousseff met with U.S. President Barack Obama last week in Russia during a Group of 20 meeting. She said Obama promised to provide explanations about the NSA program by this Wednesday.

“The Brazilian government is determined to obtain clarifications from the U.S. government about any possible violations committed,” her statement said.

Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo traveled to the U.S. from Europe on Monday and he is expected to meet Wednesday or Thursday with Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, to hear explanations of the NSA program, the Foreign Ministry said.

Petrobras said in a statement that it was aware of Globo’s report and that it takes the most up-to-date precautions available to protect its computer network.

Earlier reports based on Snowden’s documents revealed the existence of the NSA’s PRISM program, which gives the agency comprehensive access to customer data from companies like Google and Facebook.

Separate reports last week in The Guardian, The New York Times and ProPublica, also based on Snowden’s leak, said the NSA and its British counterpart had developed “new access opportunities” into Google’s computers by 2012, but the documents did not indicate how extensive the project was or what kind of data it could access.

James Clapper, director of U.S. national intelligence, said in a statement that “it is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing.”

The NSA collects the information to provide “the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy,” the statement said.

“It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets,” he said.