NSA spied on Brazil's Petrobras oil company and Google: report


Protesters hold up a placard as they take part in a protest against the NSA collecting German emails, online chats and phone calls and sharing some of it with the country's intelligence services in Berlin on July 27, 2013.


John Macdougall

The US National Security Agency allegedly spied on a Brazilian state-run oil company and private Google computer networks, a Brazilian TV report says, citing new leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The report comes after President Barack Obama sought to ease tensions with Brazil and Mexico last week following a Snowden leak alleging the NSA had snooped on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto.

Now it appears the spy agency had also investigated Petroleo Brasileiro, also known as Petrobras. 

It's unclear what, if any, information the NSA obtained, or what motivated the US agency to spy on the company, though a NSA slide presented on Globo TV claimed there could be "economic," diplomatic or political motivations.

The same goes for alleged spying into Google, as it remains unclear what kind of data could be gained, or the depth of the NSA investigation.

In addition, the Globo report names another possible victim, the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, a group that conducts international bank transfers.

The Brazilian news program had collaborated with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who months ago broke the story on the NSA's extensive phone and internet surveillance programs, and who is among the few reporters to whom Snowden has been leaking classified information. Greenwald has often said there would be additional reports, and it's likely more will follow.

Also last week, the Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism group, reported the NSA and British spy agencies had found ways to crack into protected online information, including nations' sensitive financial data.

"Newly revealed documents show that the NSA has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and automatically secures the emails, Web searches, internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world," the report said

In response to that report, Director of US National Intelligence James Klapper released a statement, saying "it is not a secret that the intelligence community collects information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing."

The information collected gives "the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy," the statement added. "It also could provide insight into other countries' economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets."