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Brazilian newspaper reveals NSA operations in Latin America

A Brazilian newspaper this week published an article it said is based on documents provided by the former American contractor Edward Snowden asserting that the United States has been collecting data on telephone calls and emails from several countries in Latin America, including important allies such as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

The paper, O Globo, based in Rio de Janeiro, said the documents show the National Security Agency amassed military and security data on countries such as Venezuela, an American adversary that has been accused of aiding Colombia’s Marxist rebels and maintaining close ties with Iran. But the documents also show that the agency carried out surveillance operations to unearth inside commercial information on the oil industry in Venezuela and the energy sector in Mexico, which is under state control and essentially closed to foreign investment.

U.S. officials have declined to address issues about intelligence gathering or the O Globo report, except to issue a statement saying that “we have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

The report Tuesday came after O Globo earlier published a story contending that Brazil is a major target of the NSA’s international effort to monitor telecommunications. The newspaper said that in gathering data in Brazil, the NSA counted on the collaboration of American and Brazilian telecommunications companies, though O Globo did not name them.

The revelations of the American agency’s operations across a swath of Latin America coincided with news from Russia about where Snowden, who is believed to be at the Moscow airport, may be headed. A leading Russian lawmaker, Alexei Pushkov, said Tuesday via his Twitter account that Snowden, who had been a contractor for the NSA, had accepted the offer of asylum that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had made Friday. Minutes after Pushkov issued his initial message it had been erased from his Twitter feed.

Snowden’s revelations show that the NSA has been gathering countless data from the phone records of Americans and internet usage abroad.

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