BRASILIA, (Xinhua): Brazil’s Senate formed an Investigative Parliamentary Commission Tuesday to follow up on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on President Dilma Rousseff.
“We intend to protect national sovereignty,” said Senator Vanessa Graziotin, of the Communist Party of Brazil (CPB).
The committee, composed of 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has 180 days to investigate claims the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.
The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission needs more time.
As the committee’s first order of business, members discussed the possibility of the state providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda, considering them to be key witnesses in the investigation.
Greenwald was the first to break the story of Washington’s global spying program, based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. on espionage charges for revealing the surveillance scheme, has been given temporary asylum in Russia.
Miranda was recently interrogated for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport as he traveled from Germany to Brazil, and had his belongings confiscated. British officials said they were operating under an anti-terror law, but Greenwald said he believed it was an attempt to intimidate.
The Senate’s decision to open an investigation follows the broadcast Sunday of a Brazilian television news program reporting the NSA spied on the highest levels of Brazil’s government, even targeting the president.
That report was also based on documents leaked by Snowden and made public by Greenwald.
News of NSA spying on Brazil first broke in July, when Brazil’s O Globo daily published articles alleging the agency had monitored digital communications and phone calls.
Washington has maintained that the spy program is designed to thwart terrorism, but Brazil says it suspects industrial espionage and has demanded an written official response from the U.S. government by Friday.
Rousseff is reportedly considering cancelling a scheduled trip to Washington next month if she receives no answer or an unsatisfactory explanation from the U.S. government.