Dilma Rousseff postpones US trip over spying
By IANS | Published: 18th September 2013 12:41 PM |
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has postponed an official visit to Washington, after the US government failed to explain its alleged spying activity in Brazil.
"Given the closeness of the scheduled visit to Washington and the lack of investigation in the matter, the conditions are lacking for the visit to take place on the previously agreed date," Xinhua quoted a statement from the presidency as saying.
Rousseff was scheduled to visit Washington Oct 23.
Rousseff will, however, go ahead with her planned trip to New York City, where she will address the UN General Assembly which began Tuesday.
Brazil had demanded an explanation from the US on the matter and asked for an end to the surveillance.
"The illegal practice of intercepting communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious act against national sovereignty and individual rights, and incompatible with the democratic coexistence of friendly countries," the statement said.
US President Barack Obama spoke over phone with Rousseff Monday, and said he "lamented" the possible suspension of her visit, sources at the presidential palace said.
The information that the US was spying on Brazil was first brought to light by documents leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden and reported in Brazilian daily O Globo and TV programme Fantastico.
The documents indicated that the US government has for years carried out a widespread surveillance scheme that monitored millions of e-mails and phone calls made by Brazilian citizens and companies.
The US did not deny the surveillance, but said the programme was part of a strategy to prevent acts of terrorism and therefore would continue.
More reports surfaced later that said the programme even targeted the president's office and Brazil's largest state-owned oil company, Petrobras.
Rousseff released an official statement condemning the spying. She argued that since Petrobras does not pose a threat to any government, one could only conclude that the US spying on Brazil was driven by strategic and economic motives.