By Marco Sibaja
BRASILIA, Brazil: A U.S. spy program is widely targeting data in emails and telephone calls across Latin America, and is focusing on energy issues, not just information related to military, political or terror topics, a Brazilian newspaper reported Tuesday.
The O Globo newspaper said it has access to some of the documents released by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The American journalist who obtained the classified information from Snowden lives in Brazil and is helping write stories for the daily.
O Globo published what it said are slides that Snowden released indicating the U.S. effort is gathering information on energy in Mexico and oil in Venezuela. There was no information released about what information was obtained, nor any companies that were targeted.
The report also said that Colombia, the strongest U.S. military ally in South America, along with Mexico and Brazil, were the countries where the U.S. program intercepted the biggest chunks of information on emails and telephone calls during the last five years. Similar activities took place in Argentina and Ecuador, among others.
Figures weren’t published on how many intercepts occurred.
O Globo also reported that the documents it’s seen indicate the U.S. had data collection centers in 2002 for material intercepted from satellites in Bogota, Caracas, Mexico City and Panama City, along with Brasilia. Nothing was published about the existence of these centers after 2002.
Snowden’s disclosures indicate that the NSA widely collects phone and Internet “metadata” — logs of message times, addresses and other information rather than the content of the messages. The documents have indicated that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of U.S. phone customers, and has gathered data on phone and Internet usage outside the U.S.
U.S. officials said only that they were working directly with Brazilian officials to answer questions.
Bolivians want apologies
Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero denounced what he called an “act of aggression” when Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was rerouted to Austria amid suspicions that Snowden was on board. Bolivia, backed by Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela, called on the Organization of American States’ permanent council to approve a declaration demanding that such an incident never be repeated.
Romero also called for apologies from European nations and an explanation of the July 2 incident.