WikiLeaks again says U.S. tapped Brazil phones

By David Biller Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the phone numbers of top Brazilian officials, WikiLeaks revealed, less than a week after President Dilma Rousseff visited the U.S. to mend relations derailed by earlier spying accusations.

The 29 phone numbers selected for "intensive interception" included those of Rousseff aides, members of Brazil's finance ministry, diplomats and even the satellite phone on Rousseff's private jet, WikiLeaks said in a report titled "Bugging Brazil" posted on Saturday. WikiLeaks, which publishes secret information and classified government documents online, didn't say when the phones were monitored, and the officials' listed positions correspond to posts held during Rousseff's first term, which ended in 2014.

Rousseff considers the spying episode to have been "overcome," and she trusts in President Barack Obama and the commitment he has made on that topic, according to a statement published on the website of the presidential palace on Saturday. The U.S. and Brazil will make their strategic partnership ever stronger, according to the statement.

The NSA deferred a request for comment to the National Security Council, which declined to comment, pointing to previous general statements on Brazil spying. Brazilian officials declined to comment.

Among the Brazilian officials listed by WikiLeaks as having been targeted for monitoring were Luiz Awazu Pereira, a former director of international affairs at Brazil's central bank and now director of economic policy; members of the Finance Ministry, including then-executive secretary Nelson Barbosa, who is now planning minister; and Rousseff's former chief of staff Antonio Palocci.

"The U.S. targeted not only those closest to the president, but waged an economic espionage campaign against Brazil, spying on those responsible for managing Brazil's economy," WikiLeaks said.

WikiLeaks didn't say when or if the NSA intercepted calls on the targeted phone numbers.

Information for this article was contributed by Victoria Stilwell and Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg News.



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