Harper says he's 'very concerned' by reports of Canada spying on Brazil

BALI, Indonesia – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he’s “very concerned” about reports that Canada’s top-secret electronic spy agency is doing industrial espionage in Brazil.

Harper said Canadian officials are “reaching out very proactively” to their counterparts in Brazil.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is accusing the Ottawa-based Communications Security Establishment Canada of mounting a sophisticated spy operation against her country’s ministry of mines and energy.

The claim is based on documents leaked to Brazilian media by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency — the American counterpart of Canada’s CSE.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific leaders summit in Bali, Harper said there is a commissioner of the spy agency who audits the organization to ensure it operates within Canadian law and added that his the government will be doing what he called “appropriate follow-up.”

The Prime Minister’s Office initially brushed off the reports, saying it would not comment on national security issues, but the allegations are threatening to turn into a major diplomatic fire between the emerging South American economic powerhouse and Canada, which hopes to extend trade ties in the region.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.