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Brazil has issued an official statement about news reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazil’s state-controlled oil and gas giant Petrobras.
“Petrobras does not represent a threat to the security of any country. It represents, however, one of the world’s largest oil assets and a patrimony of the Brazilian people,” said President Rousseff.
The Brazilian leader said her administration also demanded concrete actions to end what she claimed as “espionage offensive to human rights, Brazil’s sovereignty and economic interests.”
The president said the espionage was incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly countries, promising to take action to protect Brazil, its government and companies.
US President Barack Obama and Rousseff met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Russia last week. President Obama had, in the meet, agreed to respond formally to the spying allegations by next Wednesday.
However, new reports that Petrobras was targeted emerged after this key meeting and have further strained relations between the two nations.
The latest revelations were aired on Sunday night on the “Fantastico” news show broadcast by Brazil’s Globo Television.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, who was in Geneva for a meeting, reportedly left the city earlier than expected on Monday and headed to Washington DC, where he is expected to meet US National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Brazilian officials have said Petrobras’ newly discovered off-shore oil reserves are at the root of the US spying on Latin America’s biggest economy.
Petrobras is the world’s leading expert in deep-water oil exploration.
In October, Brazil is set to open the bidding on its Libra oilfield, estimated to have reserves of 15 billion barrels of oil, doubling Brazil’s current known reserves.
Petrobras’ former Director Roberto Villa said in an interview on Sunday that if data collected by Petrobras was leaked to one or more companies, those firms would have an illegal advantage in the bidding process.
The leaked documents do not show the extent of the espionage, or even whether the NSA was successful in its spying bid.
The NSA has made a statement denying spying on Petrobras’ or any other companies’ trade secrets, but failed to explain why the company’s name appears in the documents.
The Latin American nation has already cancelled a trip by a team of logistical planners, security personnel and protocol officers that would have left to start preparing for Rousseff’s upcoming US visit.