SAO PAULO – Brazil’s government said on Saturday that its diplomatic spat with the United States over high-level spying has been resolved, brushing aside the latest revelations by WikiLeaks about U.S. eavesdropping on the South American nation.
Brazilian Information Minister Edinho Silva said in a statement that WikiLeaks’ newly published list of members of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s administration who were spied on by the U.S. National Security Agency, pertains to “old episodes.”
“The U.S. government itself has recognized its error on the international stage and assumed its commitment to change this practice. For the (Brazilian) government, it’s been resolved,” he added.
Whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks on Saturday published the names of more than 29 members of Rousseff’s administration who were spied on by the NSA at the start of her first term in office, which began in January 2011.
The release of the list of phone numbers of high-level Brazilian officials comes just days after Rousseff, who was reelected to a second term late last year, and U.S. counterpart Barack Obama met in Washington to end bilateral tensions stemming from previous revelations about NSA eavesdropping on Brasilia.
That June 30 meeting had initially been scheduled for October 2013, but Brazil canceled it after former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden released documents showing that the NSA had intercepted Rousseff’s personal communications.
NSA also targeted Brazilian government ministries and the country’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, those previously released documents showed.
The list disclosed Saturday by WikiLeaks said that in addition to Rousseff the NSA also spied on the communications of 29 other members of her administration, including her former chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, and erstwhile foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado.
The document also said that members of Rousseff’s economic team and Brazil’s ambassadors to Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States were targets of the wiretapping.
“Our publication today shows the U.S. has a long way to go to prove its dragnet surveillance on ‘friendly’ governments is over,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement.
“The U.S. has not just (been) targeting President Rousseff but the key figures she talks to every day.”
“If President Rousseff wants to see more U.S. investment in Brazil on the back of her recent trip as she claims, how can she assure Brazilian companies that their U.S. counterparts will not have an advantage provided by this surveillance?” Assange asked rhetorically.
Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct,
Assange, who denies the sexual-misconduct accusations, fears that once he is in Swedish custody, U.S. prosecutors will indict him for the release of secret documents and Washington will pressure Stockholm into handing him over.