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Brazil government officials spied on by US: Wikileaks

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Sao Paulo: Whistle-blower website WikiLeaks has published the names of more than 29 members of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s administration who were spied on by the US National Security Agency at the start of her first term in office, which began in January 2011.

The release of the list of phone numbers on Saturday linked to high-level Brazilian officials comes just days after Rousseff, who was reelected to a second term late last year, and US counterpart Barack Obama met in Washington to end bilateral tensions stemming from previous revelations about NSA eavesdropping on Brasilia.

The June 30 meeting initially been scheduled for October 2013, but Brazil canceled it after former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden released documents showing that the NSA intercepted Rousseff’s personal communications.

NSA also targeted Brazilian government ministries and the country’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, those previously released documents showed.

The list disclosed on Saturday by WikiLeaks said that in addition to Rousseff the NSA also spied on the communications of 29 other members of her administration, including her former chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, and erstwhile foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado.

The document also said that members of Rousseff’s economic team and Brazil’s ambassadors to Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the US were targets of the wiretapping.

Julian Assange“Our publication today shows the US has a long way to go to prove its dragnet surveillance on ‘friendly’ governments is over,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement.

“The US has not just (been) targeting President Rousseff but the key figures she talks to every day.”

“If President Rousseff wants to see more US investment in Brazil on the back of her recent trip as she claims, how can she assure Brazilian companies that their US counterparts will not have an advantage provided by this surveillance?” Assange asked rhetorically.

Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct.

Assange, who denies the sexual-misconduct accusations, fears that once he is in Swedish custody, US prosecutors would indict him for the release of secret documents and Washington would pressure Stockholm into handing him over.

(IANS/EFE)

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Illegal Loggers Threaten ‘Uncontacted Indigenous Tribes’ In The Amazon

The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging.

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Members of an uncontacted Amazon Basin tribe and their dwellings are seen during a flight over the Brazilian state of Acre along the border with Peru. VOA

Illegal loggers and militias cleared an area three times the size of Gibraltar in Brazil’s Amazon this year, threatening an “uncontacted” indigenous tribe, activists said on Tuesday.

Satellite imagery collected by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian advocacy group, detected about 4,600 acres (1,863 hectares) of deforestation this year in the Ituna Itata indigenous land in northern Para state.

“This situation is very worrying,” Juan Doblas, senior geo-processing analyst at ISA, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“There is a series of risks, not only to indigenous territories of uncontacted tribes, but also to other indigenous territories in the area.”

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Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest. Wikimedia Commons

The indigenous affairs agency Funai and the federal police were not immediately available to comment. The environmental protection agency Ibama said in a statement that official data on Amazon deforestation will be released in November.

Brazil’s uncontacted tribes, some of the last on earth, depend on large areas of unspoiled forest land to hunt animals and gather the food they need to survive.

They are particularly vulnerable when their land rights are threatened because they lack the natural immunity to diseases that are carried by outsiders, rights groups say.

Forest loss in Ituna Itata — from which outsiders were banned in 2011 to protect the uncontacted tribe — spiked to about 2,000 acres in August from 7 acres in May, said ISA, which has monitored the area through satellites since January.

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This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para.. VOA

South America’s largest country is grappling with scores of deadly land conflicts, illustrating the tensions between preserving indigenous culture and economic development.

ISA filed a complaint in April to federal and state authorities about forest destruction and illegal logging in the area during the rainy season, which is unusual, said Doblas.

“It was a sign that something very serious was going to happen,” he said. “It was a preparation for the invasion.”

Also Read: Spix’s Macaw Parrot from Brazil Is Now Extinct

The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging, he said, adding that ISA plans to file another complaint this week, using updated data and satellite images. (VOA)