U.S. Allies Still Angry at Snowden’s Revelations of U.S. Spying

Relations with Europe, Brazil are tense and unlikely to ease soon

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Richard Drew / AP

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff waits to be introduced to address the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2013 in New York.

The European Parliament this week named Edward Snowden a finalist for its prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the latest expression of international outrage over the former U.S. intelligence contractor’s revelations that America spies on allies and enemies alike.

Snowden in late June showed National Security Agency documents to the German magazine Der Spiegel that allegedly revealed that the U.S. monitored Germany as closely as it does China or Russia, intercepting some 500 million communications monthly. German Chancellor Angela Merkel in July called on President Barack Obama to disclose the full details on U.S. spying on Germany. “Germany is not a surveillance state, it’s a country of freedom,” she said during her annual summer appearance before the Berlin press corps. Given East Germany’s big brother history, invasion of privacy is a serious issue in Germany. “There is a huge outcry against the [Snowden scandal],” Dan Hamilton, executive director of the American Consortium on European Union Studies at Johns Hopkins, tells TIME. “I’m not sure how many in the U.S. understand the depth of anger and surprise amongst the Germans about the surveillance.”

Snowden, at the time camping out in the transit lounge in Moscow’s international airport waiting for Russia to grant him asylum, also showed Der Spiegel documents that described how the agency bugged the European Union’s Washington and New York as well as the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels, which houses the European Council and the EU Council of Ministers. “If it is true, it is a huge scandal,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz told Der Spiegel. “That would mean a huge burden for relations between the EU and the U.S. We now demand comprehensive information.” Some European Union politicians have called for Europe to open proceedings against the U.S. at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The same week, The Guardian printed a story also attributed to Snowden documents that the NSA also spies on 38 embassies and missions. So-called “targets” include France, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, India and Turkey.

Mexico and Brazil have demanded answers from the U.S. over Guardian revelations in September, again sourced to Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents, that the U.S. spied on both countries’ presidential offices as well as Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil giant.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was once imprisoned and tortured by Brazil’s military hunta, delayed an October state visit to Washington in protest. She also took to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly last week to express her outrage to Obama, who was waiting in the wings to speak. “Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff thundered. “A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country.”

Though the U.S. hasn’t commented on Europe’s anger, the White House did put out a statement following Obama’s call with Rousseff on Sept. 17 during which she informed him she was postponing her state visit—the first of Obama’s second term. “The President has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for the National Security Council said. “As the President previously stated, he has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete.”

MORE: The Surveillance Society

17 comments
MihaiIon
MihaiIon

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Concerned100
Concerned100

What's new. One man with a conscience and the courage to act with valour is branded a traitor by a group of international terrorists who are now going to train more Libyan terrorists, using US tax dollars.

pewpewpew01
pewpewpew01

Yeah, its allies are still angry... while simultaneously spying on their own citizens, other European countries, the US, and elsewhere. Didn't Snowden just recently reveal that Germany, France and Britain were doing the same thing... even helping the NSA? Even without "Snowden's revelation", it's hilarious that these first rate countries in Europe, in the same area where most surveillance technology is produced and sold throughout the world, would be publicly 'outraged'. I guess it's just "low hanging fruit" for European leaders to gain support from their citizenry? I know Merkel is.

angelicvh
angelicvh

I knew when Britain would not stand with us regarding Syria, that we had really hit hard times, and of the 10 that would were Bosnia, Czech Republic, etc.    It is time for us to become workers among workers. I want our allies, our place in the world.

PrettyEnRouge
PrettyEnRouge

This is obviously something important our major news networks willingly fail to address.  They prefer to watch the clock on the government shutdown and incite domestic polarization than to enlighten us about our government's wrongs in the international stage.

DerickBranson
DerickBranson

US allies should be very angry with Mr. Snowden because it is he who blew the lid open, especially the anti-national activities of the government. NSA was meant to do surveillance on the terrorists, especially Al Quaida, who was in the first place was created by us, I mean the US (Don't believe me? Just have a look at the video document on YouTube where Mrs. Hillary Clinton was confessing it). However, can anyone tell me, what NSA was supervising by hearing Brazil's President Dilma Roussef's conversations and emails? Can anyone in the world believe that she had the remotest links with the terrorist activities? Where are we heading to? NSA has lost all its credibility by spying on Roussef and the credibility of the US is also at stake in the international community. When after this leak, Brazilian President has taken a strong stance, which she has every reason to do, is now cursed by our administration and Senators. This is the time when US allies are showing their displeasure on Snowden for blowing the lid open. I'll say Snowden has done the right thing to save American Dream, the democracy we preach to the world. This is not the democracy Martin Luther King Junior fought dying. I personally think that the amount of money spend on NSA should be curbed and instead that money should be channelized to the greater good of the economy, further boosting the economy and enlarging the scope of more employment

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Good job, Jay, keeping some light focused on this important story. Once the Shiny Shutdown Object is done with its 15 minutes of fame, this story, should get more of the spotlight.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Jay. Pardon my dark cynicism - probably from too much "time" hanging around swampland comments - but using the "he who is without sin cast the first stone" theory, I somehow doubt European and South American countries have clean hands when it comes to spying. If they don't spy on us or others, even allies, then they have a right to complain. But not until then.

angelicvh
angelicvh

By the way if you get your news from Main stream media, you are being spoon fed 'white sugar' no substance, not honest, and completely propaganda. Look for information.

jpcali
jpcali

@DerickBranson

Ah, U.S. allies are not "angry with Snowden" or are "showing their displeasure on Snowden, they want to give him a  prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

If you want to know "where are we heading to", you should want to know how the US got to be where it is. You may want to do some reading. I would recommend John Perkin's "Secret History of the American Empire" to start. And keep in mind the Golden Rule, they who have the gold, rule.

PrettyEnRouge
PrettyEnRouge

@deconstructiva Five wrongs don't make a right.  Based on your reasoning, all the countries in the world should get on the spying bandwagon, up their ante, and bring all of us into another Cold War.  Good luck flying internationally.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@deconstructiva I'd agree that no nation's hands are "spotlessly clean", decon. But, given that our defense/security budget is orders of magnitude greater than anyone else's, I'd wager that we've got more of a pebbles to boulders situation here.

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