Brazil says it needs answers on NSA surveillance

Edward Snowden revealed the US has been snooping on Internet users

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on Tuesday criticized U.S. surveillance in Brazil and said the trust between the U.S. and Brazil would be damaged if U.S. explanations about the program are not satisfactory.

At a news conference in Brasilia with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Patriota said that the U.S.-Brazil relationship was maturing on many fronts. But he said the partnership faced new challenges with revelations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden that the NSA had targeted Brazil and other Latin American nations in monitoring worldwide communications.

“We’re now facing a new type of challenge in our bilateral relationship,” he said. “The challenge is related to news about the interception of Brazilian electronic and telephone communications. And if those challenges are not resolved in a satisfactory way, we run the risk of casting a shadow of distrust over our work.”

He said Brazil was seeking explanations through political, diplomatic and technical channels, but that those clarifications were not an “end to themselves.”

“We need to stop practices that violate sovereignty, ” he said.

Kerry defended the program, saying it had been approved by all three branches of the U.S. government. He pledged that the U.S. would work to provide transparency to the program for Brazil and other nations offended by the surveillance.

“We’re not surprised and we’re not upset that Brazil would ask questions. Absolutely understandable.” Kerry said.

“Brazil is owed answers with respect to those questions and they will get them. And we will work together very positively to make certain that this question — these issues — do not get in the way of all the other things that we talked about.”

He said he could not discuss operational issues, but said the U.S. is talking to the Brazilians about the program.

“We will guarantee that Brazil and other countries will understand exactly what we are doing — why and how — and we will work together to make sure that whatever is done is done in a way that respects our friends and our partners. And that is what we are going to achieve.”