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US-Brazil tensions rise after new NSA spy report

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Brazilian government condemned a U.S. spy program that reportedly targeted the nation’s leader, labeled it an “unacceptable invasion” of sovereignty and called Monday for international regulations to protect citizens and governments alike from cyber espionage.

In a sign that fallout over the spy program is spreading, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that President Dilma Rousseff is considering canceling her October trip to the U.S., where she has been scheduled to be honored with a state dinner. Folha cited unidentified Rousseff aides. The president’s office declined to comment.

The Foreign Ministry called in U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon and told him Brazil expects the White House to provide a prompt written explanation over the espionage allegations.

The action came after a report aired Sunday night on Globo TV citing 2012 documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden that indicated the U.S. intercepted Rousseff’s emails and telephone calls, along with those of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose communications were being monitored even before he was elected as president in July 2012.

Mexico’s government said it had expressed its concerns to the U.S. ambassador and directly to the U.S. administration.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo said, “We’re going to talk with our partners, including developed and developing nations, to evaluate how they protect themselves and to see what joint measures could be taken in the face of this grave situation.”

He added that “there has to be international regulations that prohibit citizens and governments alike from being exposed to interceptions, violations of privacy and cyberattacks.”

Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo said at a joint news conference with Figueiredo that “from our point of view, this represents an unacceptable violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

“This type of practice is incompatible with the confidence necessary for a strategic partnership between two nations,” Cardozo said.

Earlier, Sen. Ricardo Ferraco, head of the Brazilian Senate’s foreign relations committee, said lawmakers already had decided to formally investigate the U.S. program’s focus on Brazil because of earlier revelations that the country was a top target of the NSA spying in the region. He said the probe would likely start this week.

“I feel a mixture of amazement and indignation. It seems like there are no limits. When the phone of the president of the republic is monitored, it’s hard to imagine what else might be happening,” Ferraco told reporters in Brasilia. “It’s unacceptable that in a country like ours, where there is absolutely no climate of terrorism, that there is this type of spying.”

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