Brazil facing wiretapping scandal
Sun, 31 Aug 2008 01:22:31 GMT
Brazil's national intelligence agency will investigate accusations that its agents tapped the phones of top government officials.
The Brazilian Intelligence Agency, known by its Portuguese acronym ABIN, said in a statement it will also ask the Justice Ministry and other officials to independently look into the case.
The news magazine Veja reported in its latest edition that ABIN agents not only tapped the phones of Gilmar Mendes, the Supreme Court justice, but also the close associates of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and members of Congress.
Veja reported it received a packet of information from an ABIN agent it didn't name that contained evidence the agency routinely carried out illegal wiretaps.
President of Brazil's Senate Garibaldi Alves, which was another alleged target of the wiretaps, said he will speak with Mendes on Monday to organize a joint response.
Alves also said on Saturday that "President Lula will have to take action.'' He said that the president "has a decisive role in avoiding any possibility that his core team is supporting and promoting this.''
The Veja article made clear that none of its sources were accusing Silva of having any knowledge of wiretapping.
It was not clear why the taps would have been carried out, though some local media speculate it could be connected to October municipal elections that are seen as a key test of the popularity of Silva's Workers' Party ahead of the 2010 presidential race.
Mendes told Veja that any wiretapping would be a blow to democracy.
"To secretly record the telephone calls of the president of the supreme court is something from a totalitarian regime,'' he was quoted as saying.
Mendes said he didn't think the government ordered any wiretaps, but he would ask Silva to investigate and punish those responsible.