Earlier today, a report in Brazil's daily Globo newspaper claimed that the National Security Agency has been spying on electronic communications and telephone calls originating from the country for the past decade. The Globo story was co-authored by The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald — the journalist who first broke news of sophisticated (and highly classified) US surveillance programs with the help of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Today's report is allegedly substantiated by further documentation leaked to Greenwald by Snowden, who is currently seeking asylum in a number of countries in hopes of evading espionage charges in the United States.
The report stops short of revealing exactly how much traffic has been monitored, but describes Brazil as a priority for NSA surveillance. The government agency apparently was able to monitor communications with the help of American companies that conduct business with Brazilian telecommunications providers. Like other rumored subjects of spying, Brazil's government hasn't taken kindly to the news. "The Brazilian government is gravely concerned by the news that electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens are the objective of espionage efforts by US intelligence agencies," the country's foreign ministry said in a statement. Brazil has said it will demand an explanation from US officials and seek solutions with the International Telecommunications Union to better ensure privacy for its citizens.
In a televised interview Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said the growing surveillance controversy has damaged "the importance of trust" with foreign nations.