SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A Brazilian government commission has requested Russia’s help to meet with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, as allegations of U.S. spying continue to dog relations between the Western hemisphere’s largest countries.
Members of Brazil’s Foreign Relations Commission expect to speak with Russian representatives next week to determine the viability of a mission to see Snowden, who is living in Russia, a commission spokesman said Thursday.
Commission members also hope to speak with U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has broken stories involving Snowden’s release of National Security Agency documents for Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Brazil’s Globo newspaper and TV network, and who has already spoken with the Brazilian Senate.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has put her plans for an October visit to Washington on hold pending explanations from the U.S. regarding alleged snooping on Rousseff and Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company.
Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo met with U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice at the White House on Wednesday. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said revelations in the press “raise legitimate questions” and that the U.S. “is committed to working with Brazil to address these concerns.”
Officials in Brazil said a trip to speak with Snowden in Russia would be part of its investigation of spying.
“It’s a question of national sovereignty,” said Congressman Ivan Valente, who sponsored the motion to seek the meeting with Snowden. “It’s much more than just that the United States is acting against terrorism. With Petrobras, economic, industrial and commercial interests are now at play.”
Relations between the U.S. and Brazil had improved under Rousseff. The invitation to the White House was seen as a long-awaited affirmation of her country’s rising status.
But relations were complicated by a series of reports, starting in July, alleging that the U.S. spied on Brazilians, including Rousseff.
Rousseff met with Obama in Russia at the Group of 20 summit to discuss the allegations, before new revelations came out Sunday alleging spying on Petrobras, which is overseeing an expansive project to harvest vast offshore oil reserves.
“Without a doubt, Petrobras does not represent a threat to any country. But it does represent one of the world’s largest oil assets and the property of the Brazilian people,” Rousseff said in an official note released Monday. The Brazilian government is asking for explanations as well as “concrete measures,” as the "[spying practices] are incompatible with democratic relations between friendly nations.”
Bevins is a special correspondent.