After Brazilian agents were discovered to have photographed American, Russian and other diplomats, Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardoso claimed these acts were nothing like U.S. spying. President Dilma Rousseff, who made a compelling speech at the U.N. General Assembly denouncing American surveillance, may have to eat her words now that her own intelligence agency has been caught red-handed.

And yet, Cardoso insists there’s no comparison between what his nation’s agents did and what the U.S. National Security Agency does. The BBC reports:

“I see completely different situations. What happened in relation to Brazil and other countries was a violation. Emails and phone calls were violated, which is an affront to Brazilian sovereignty,” [Cardoso] told reporters.

The minister described the alleged activities as “counter-intelligence” operations, intended to “verify whether other countries were spying” on Brazil.

The report leaked to Brazil’s Folha de S. Paulo newspaper says agents from the national intelligence agency, Abin, followed and photographed diplomats from at least three countries: the US, Iran and Russia.

It has since been officially confirmed by Abin.

The US state department suggested Brazil’s activities were routine.

“As we have indicated in the past, all nations gather foreign intelligence,” it said in a statement, which also sought to reinforce the countries’ “partnership”.

Brazil was angered by revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had hacked the computer network of state-run oil company Petrobras to collect data on emails and telephone calls.

The allegations of electronic espionage also led to Brazil and Germany asking the UN General Assembly to adopt a draft resolution calling for the right to privacy in the digital age.

There you have it. Spying is apparently OK as long as you’re spying only to ascertain whether you’re under surveillance. Wait, what?

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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