Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has canceled a US visit by a team of officials preparing for her next month’s state visit to Washington, a further sign of an escalating row between Brasilia and Washington over US spying on Brazilian officials.
Brazilian officials made the announcement on Thursday, a day after a Reuters report revealed that Rousseff was considering canceling her scheduled visit to the US and downgrading bilateral commercial ties unless Washington offers a public apology for the National Security Agency (NSA)'s massive surveillance program that directly targeted the private communications of the Brazilian leader and her top aides.
"She is completely furious," said a senior Brazilian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"This is a major, major crisis.... There needs to be an apology. It needs to be public. Without that, it's basically impossible for her to go to Washington in October," the official added.
On Sunday, Brazil’s Globo TV reported that the NSA spied on emails, phone calls and text messages of Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The report was based on documents released by US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor.
Rousseff is scheduled to visit the White House in late October to meet her US counterpart Barack Obama and discuss a possible 4-billion-dollar jet fighter deal, cooperation on oil and biofuels technology between the two biggest economies in the Americas, as well as other commercial projects.
The Brazilian official said that Rousseff is ready to cancel the visit and take other punitive measures against Washington, including the termination of the potential purchase of F-18 Super Hornet fighters from Chicago-based Boeing Co.
Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday that she has “no further update” on the Brazilian president demanding a public apology over alleged US spying.
“We certainly value our relationship with Brazil. That is why we of course extended the invitation to President Rousseff to visit the United States. We look forward to continuing our vital relationship with Brazil and ongoing discussions. As you all know the President will be of course be seeing President Rousseff at the G20 but beyond that I don't have any further update at this point,” Psaki said.
And Obama did meet Rousseff on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia, but there are not reports that he offered the apology.
"The president met with President Rousseff of Brazil today between the first G20 plenary session and tonight's dinner," the White House said on Thursday.
In July, Brazil’s O Globo
newspaper said the NSA has been spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.
The newspaper reported on July 7 that the NSA had collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in the country.
The report said that information released by Edward Snowden reveals that the number of telephone and email messages logged by the NSA in the 10-year period was near to the 2.3 billion captured in the US during the same period.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.