OTTAWA - Brazil demanded answers Monday following allegations Canada's electronic eavesdropping agency mounted a sophisticated spy operation against the South American country's ministry of mines and energy.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff accused the Ottawa-based Communications Security Establishment Canada of engaging in industrial espionage.
Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo summoned the Canadian ambassador in the capital of Brasilia to "transmit the indignation of the Brazilian government and demand explanations," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The accusations aired on Brazil's Globo television network also prompted questions from Canadian intelligence experts about exactly what the spy service should be doing and how much Canadians should be told of its priorities.
The television report said the metadata — or indexing details — of phone calls and emails from and to the ministry were targeted by the Canadian agency to map the ministry's communications.
The report was based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency — CSEC's American counterpart.
Snowden provided classified presentation slides from June describing an operation labelled Olympia that apparently involved CSEC capabilities known as "Advanced Network Tradecraft."
The slides map out communications between Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Britain, Poland and Singapore.
They also suggest CSEC was working with the NSA's exclusive "Tailored Access Operations" division on setting up a "Man on the Side" operation — a kind of fake digital front that would allow the spy services to access valuable details.
Canadian officials were uniformly tight-lipped.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper would neither confirm nor deny the allegations when asked to respond to the report late Sunday night.
CSEC said it "does not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities." Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, the cabinet member responsible for CSEC, said much the same thing.
"I don't comment, nor do we comment, on foreign intelligence gathering activities," Nicholson said.
"That being said, Canada does have a strong and ever-expanding bilateral relationship with Brazil and we look forward to continuing that collaboration and friendship."
During Monday's meeting, Figueiredo expressed "the government's repudiation of this serious and unacceptable violation of national sovereignty and the rights of people and companies," the Foreign Ministry statement said.
CSEC, with headquarters ringed by tall fencing in Ottawa's south end, monitors foreign computer, satellite, radio and telephone traffic for intelligence of interest to Canada.
It has a staff of more than 2,000 — including skilled mathematicians, linguists and computer whizzes — and a budget of about $400 million. It plans to move to elaborate new facilities in Ottawa's east end next to Canada's domestic spy agency.
Earlier documents leaked by Snowden suggest Canada helped the United States and Britain spy on participants at the London G20 summit four years ago. Britain's Guardian newspaper published presentation slides describing the operation, including one featuring the CSEC emblem.
Federal documents say that in 2011-12 the CSEC's priorities included a focus on Canada's mission in Afghanistan, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, foreign espionage and interference, and the federal government's northern Canada strategy.
The revelations beg questions about CSEC's interest in Brazil as opposed to other priorities, said Wesley Wark, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa's graduate school of public and international affairs.
"We've never historically devoted a lot of resources to economic intelligence gathering," he said. "It's not clear that we have a lot of resources to devote to that. We've never had any kind of public debate about whether that's a good way to use intelligence agencies."
Wark said he would be surprised if economic intelligence had indeed become a CSEC focus. "Because I think there's just too much else out there in the world to pay that they'd have to pay attention to."
The government should be clear about what kinds of economic topics might be considered legitimate foreign intelligence targets, said long-time CSEC watcher Bill Robinson.
"I think it would be reasonable for the government to lay out that kind of priority."
Following the television report, Rousseff instructed Mines Minister Edison Lobao to beef up the ministry's data protection systems.
Globo previously reported that the communications of Rousseff herself, and also state-run oil company Petrobras, were targeted by NSA spying.
The fallout over the spy programs led Rousseff last month to cancel a planned visit to the United States.
Speaking last month to the United Nations General Assembly, Rousseff called for international regulations that would govern data privacy and limit espionage programs targeting the Internet.
— With files from The Associated Press
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Vladimir Putin, President Of Russia
<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/06/13/vladimir-putin-defends-the-u-s-on-spying-programs-drones-and-occupy-wall-street/" target="_blank">Russian President Vladimir Putin called</a> the massive U.S. surveillance programs, revealed last week by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, “generally practicable” and “the way a civilized society should go about fighting terrorism.” <em>Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with prosecutor general Yuri Chaika, not pictured, at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)</em>
William Hague, Foreign Secretary Of The United Kingdom
<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22839090" target="_blank">In a statement to Parliament</a>, Hague said the UK's information-sharing relationship with the U.S. was "essential to the security of the country" and had "saved many lives." <em>British Foreign Secretary William Hague speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)</em>
Martin Schulz, President Of The European Parliament
"I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations," <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/30/world/europe/eu-nsa" target="_blank">European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement.</a> "If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations." <em>Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, delivers a speech during the funeral ceremony of former Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn at the Fiumei cemetery in Budapest on July 8, 2013. (PETER KOHALMI/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, German Justice Minister
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/30/world/europe/eu-nsa" target="_blank">German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger </a>"said if the accusations were true, it was reminiscent of the Cold War," ministry spokesman Anders Mertzlufft said, adding that the minister "has asked for an immediate explanation from the United States." <em>German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger arrives for the weekly German federal Cabinet meeting on July 10, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)</em>
Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/30/world/europe/eu-nsa" target="_blank">French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for a swift explanation from American authorities.</a> "These acts, if they are confirmed, would be absolutely unacceptable," he said in a statement. <em>French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks to journalists upon arrival for the Donor Conference for Development in Mali, in Brussels, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)</em>
Cristina Fernandez, President Of Argentina
"A shiver ran down my back when I learned that they are spying on all of us," <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/11/us-usa-security-latinamerica-idUSBRE96A0G520130711" target="_blank">Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in a speech on July 9.</a> <em>Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaks to the press upon her arrival for a meeting with other leftist Latin American leaders called after Bolivia's President Evo Morales plane was rerouted in Europe amid suspicions US fugitive Edward Snowden was aboard, in the Bolivian central city of Cochabamba, on July 4, 2013. (JORGE BERNAL/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Ollanta Humala, President Of Peru
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Gilberto Carvalho, Top Aide To Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/11/us-usa-security-latinamerica-idUSBRE96A0G520130711" target="_blank">Gilberto Carvalho, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff, said</a> a "very hard" response to the United States was needed. "If we lower our heads, they will trample all over us tomorrow," he said. <em>Gilberto Carvalho, chief minister of the general secretariat of the presidency, talks about the protests across the country during a meeting marking World Youth Day at the presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)</em>
Also on HuffPost: POLITICIANS REACT TO NSA SPYING
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the court order for telephone records was part of a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130606/us-nsa-phone-records-feinstein/" target="_blank">the Associated Press reported</a>. "It’s called protecting America," Feinstein said at a Capitol Hill news conference.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a> "the administration owes the American public an explanation of what authorities it thinks it has."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) thought everyone "should just calm down." "Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand this isn't anything that's brand new," Reid <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a>.
Former Vice President Al Gore
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in a statement: "This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/lindsey-graham-nsa_n_3396223.html?1370532449" target="_blank">"glad" the NSA was collecting phone records. </a> "I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States," Graham said in an interview on "Fox and Friends."
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) also claimed that reports of the NSA collecting phone records was "nothing particularly new." "Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this," Chambliss<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank"> said</a>. "And to my knowledge we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information."
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) found the NSA collecting phone records <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">"troubling."</a> "The fact that all of our calls are being gathered in that way -- ordinary citizens throughout America -- to me is troubling and there may be some explanation, but certainly we all as citizens are owed that, and we're going to be demanding that," Corker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a>.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)