Outrage Over Alleged NSA Spying Spreads To Mexico

Mexicans are outraged over allegations that the National Security Agency was spying on President Enrique Pena Nieto even before he was elected Mexico's leader. The charges were broadcast over the weekend in Brazil and claimed the NSA spied on Brazil's leader, Dilma Rousseff, as well.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. Mexico is asking the U.S. government to investigate allegations that the National Security Agency spied on President Enrique Pena Nieto last summer when he was a candidate. The revelations were reported on Brazilian TV. It also accused the U.S. of gathering information on Brazil's president. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, the allegations come at an awkward time for the U.S. with Vice President Joe Biden heading to Mexico and Brazil's president coming to the White House.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Mexico's foreign minister sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. government today demanding a thorough investigation into the spying allegations. He then took to the local airwaves.

JOSE ANTONIO MEADE: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: On the "Enfoque" radio program, Jose Antonio Meade said he didn't want to prejudge the accuracy of the information contained in the press reports, but that his government categorically condemns the possibility that the U.S. spied on Mexican citizens. He did not mention President Enrique Pena Nieto by name. Meade went on to say that if the allegations are true, such actions would be in violation of international law.

Brazil's foreign minister told reporters this is an inadmissible and unacceptable violation of Brazilian sovereignty. Local news reports quote the Minister saying President Dilma Rousseff is considering canceling an upcoming state visit to the White House. The revelations over the alleged U.S. spying were aired Sunday night on O'Globo's television news program "Fantastico." The program showed slides of documents its reporter said she received from Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV PROGRAM)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: The report claims that U.S. intelligence conducted a two-week probe of then presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto and nine of his close associates. According to the report, the U.S. spied on Pena Nieto's emails, phone calls and text messages. The U.S. supposedly learned the names of possible candidates Pena Nieto would appoint if elected president. None of those documents, however, were provided on the televised report or on O'Globo's website.

Jorge Castaneda, who was Mexico's Foreign Minister from 2000 to 2003, said there were always suspicions that the U.S. was listening in on government conversations. He says if the accusations are true, then Mexico must find out if they inadvertently gave the U.S. easier access to all Mexican sources through their intelligence sharing in the fight against narco trafficking.

JORGE CASTANEDA: In other words, whether U.S. capability was not enormously enhanced in principle to fight drug kingpins, but apparently also to spy on the next Mexican president.

KAHN: For its part, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico would only say it received the diplomatic note but would not comment on the news reports. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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