Brazil Acknowledges it Spied on Diplomats
The Brazilian Government acknowledged Monday that its top intelligence agency had spied on diplomatic targets of countries including the United States, Iran and Russia, putting the Brazilian authorities in the uncomfortable position to defend their own spy practices after repeatedly criticizing U.S. spy operations.

Institutional security of the Brazil Office, which oversees the activities of the country intelligence, argued in a statement released Monday that the spy operations, involving a relatively basic surveillance, about a decade ago, on diplomats and the diplomatic properties in Brazil, were "in full respect"of the legislation governing these practices. ''

This statement comes in response to a report in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo describing how the Brazilian Intelligence, commonly known as Abin, Agency was tracking some diplomats from Russia and Iran on foot and by car, by photographing their movements, and also the monitoring of a commercial property leased by the Embassy of the United States in Brasilia, the capital.

In all respects, these modest operations are in stark contrast to the radical international spying operations by the National Security Agency. The president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, recently postponed a State visit to Washington after revelations that the NSA had spied on her and Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.

"This is the kind of basic stuff when you think about it," said Fernando Sampaio, 70 years, honorary consul of Russia in the southern city of Porto Alegre and one of the subjects of the Brazilian spy program, according to the report of the newspaper, which was based on an Abin document. "Spy Governments, what a surprise ", Mr. Sampaio, a lawyer who has long worked to open Russian markets for Brazilian beef exports, said by phone. "I suspected for a long time that my phone line was bugged, and it probably still is ", he added."

However, the report focuses new attention on Abin, an organization that isunder scrutiny to have been taken by surprise by the huge street protests that have shaken Brazilian cities in June and quietly oust an officer suspected of passing secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency. Active intelligence officials have also publicly criticized the Agency's monitoring priority of Brazilian social movements.

Dean Cheves, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, said that the commercial real estate under surveillance has been used as a relay station for communications walkie talkie, intended to work for the staff of the embassies in an emergency. Brazilian telecommunications regulators had allowed the installation, he said.

Mr. Cheves declined to comment on the targeting of the property by Brazilian intelligence officials.

Brazilian intelligence officials, for their part, have insisted in their statement that Abin operations were intended to defend "national sovereignty". Referring to the revelations contained in the report of the newspaper, they also said that the leaking of classified documents was illegal and that officials do what would be held liable under Brazilian law.
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