Canadian PM says 'very concerned' by Brazil spying allegations

Tue Oct 8, 2013 6:05pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern on Tuesday about allegations that a Canadian intelligence agency had targeted Brazil and said officials were reaching out to their Brazilian counterparts.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday demanded Canada explain a media report that said the Communications Security Establishment Canada (known as CSE or CSEC) - the equivalent of the top-secret U.S. National Security Agency - had spied on Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.

The affair is a potential embarrassment for Harper, who visited Brazil in 2011 and held talks with Rousseff in a bid to deepen ties with a regional power that is both a trading partner and a competitor.

"Canadian officials are reaching out very proactively to their counterparts ... I'm obviously very concerned about this story and some of the reports around it, very concerned," Harper told reporters in Indonesia on the sidelines of an Asian summit.

"That said, you know I cannot comment on national security operations."

Harper did not give details of which Brazilian officials had been approached about the situation.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird said Canada's ambassador to Brazil "speaks with the Foreign Ministry on a regular and ongoing basis" but declined to comment further.

Defense Minister Rob Nicholson, who is ultimately responsible for CSE, declined to discuss the allegations when speaking to reporters on Monday.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks before a dinner hosted by the National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) for Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Vaughan, Ontario September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Blacker