National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has written an “open letter to the people of Brazil” offering to help investigate U.S. surveillance of Brazilian citizens.
In the letter, Snowden says he has told Brazilian lawmakers that he is willing to help investigate “suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.”
“I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so — going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!
“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”
Brazil has been in an uproar over reports of U.S. spying. In September, Brazilian lawmakers said they planned to send a commission to Russia to speak with Snowden, who had allegedly leaked information about U.S. spying against the country’s president.
Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo called the situation “an inadmissible and unacceptable violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”
Last month, Brazil acknowledged its own past snooping. The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo revealed that Brazil spied on foreign diplomats inside Brazil in 2003 and 2004. Its targets included officials from Russia, Iran and the United States.
“I see the situations as completely different,” Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo told the paper.
n his letter, Snowden, a former NSA contractor, writes, “Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world. When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more. They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.
“American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not ‘surveillance,’ it’s ‘data collection.’ They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”