(AP) Canada's prime minister said Tuesday he's "very concerned" about allegations that his country's spies targeted Brazilian officials and his officials are working to repair the damage.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said industrial espionage appears to be behind the alleged spying of the country's Mines and Energy Ministry. Canadian companies have large mining interest across the globe, including in Brazil.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his officials are "reaching out very proactively" to Brazilian counterparts. Harper said he could not comment further on "national security operations."
Brazil Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo summoned the Canadian ambassador in the capital, Brasilia, to "transmit the indignation of the Brazilian government and demand explanations," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday that followed the revelations that aired Sunday night on Brazil's Globo network.
The report said phone calls and emails from and to the Mines and Energy Ministry were targeted by Canada's Communications Security Establishment. It didn't indicate if emails were read or phone calls listened to.
The report was based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America's biggest nation has been a target for United States, British and now Canadian spy agencies.
The CSEC monitors foreign computer, satellite, radio and telephone traffic for intelligence of interest to Canada. Harper vowed to check if CSEC is following its mandate.
"We do have a commissioner of the Canadian Security Establishment," Harper said in Bali, Indonesia where he attended the APEC summit. "That commissioner does surveillance and audits the organization to make sure its operating within Canadian law. As I say, we are concerned and we will do appropriate follow up."
A spokeswoman for Canada's Communications Security Establishment said the agency "does not comment on foreign intelligence gathering activities." A spokeswoman for the Canadian Defense Department also declined comment.
Ray Boisvert, a former high-ranking member of Canada's spy service and the deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service until last year, said he didn't think there was industrial spying going on because "we're all too busy chasing things that could kill people, frankly."
He added that Canada's spy agencies don't share information with private companies in Canada, noting that Canada does not have state-owned companies.
Boisvert said he thinks the episode might have been a case of Canada using Brazil as part of a pretend war game scenario and not actual espionage. Boisvert said from the reports there's no indication that it's about real targeting.
"It's a hypothetical thing, like 'Could we do something?' Quite often it's an exercise and they'll use any country just to test the theories," he said.
He said the report has damaged relations with Brazil.
"Rousseff's already tired of people reading her mail. You can say what you want but the damage is already done," he said.
American journalist Glenn Greenwald, based in Rio de Janeiro, worked with Globo on its report. Working for Britain's Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post, Greenwald broke the first stories about the NSA's global spy program focusing on Internet traffic and phone calls.
Globo previously reported that the communications of Rousseff herself, and also state-run oil company Petrobras, were targeted by NSA spying.
The fallout over the spy programs led Rousseff last month to cancel a planned visit to the U.S., where she was to be the guest of honor for a state dinner.
Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil contributed to this report.