Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, from left to right, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 12, 2013.
Four South American countries have censured the United States for spying in the region during a summit of the Mercosur trade bloc in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
Presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela met in Montevideo on Friday.
They expressed their outrage over recent reports that a US surveillance program is targeting emails and telephone calls across Latin America.
“We emphatically reject the interception of telecommunications and espionage actions in our nations, as they constitute a violation of human rights, of the right of our citizens to privacy and information,” Mercosur leaders said in the summit’s final statement. “It’s unacceptable behavior that breaches our sovereignty and harms relations between nations.”
The South American leaders also defended the right of asylum after Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua recently offered to grant asylum to US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. He has been holed up at a Moscow airport since June 23, when he traveled from Hong Kong to avoid extradition to the US.
“We repudiate any activity that could undermine the authority of States to grant and fully implement the right of asylum,” the statement said. “We reject any attempt in pressuring, harassment or criminalization of a State over a country’s sovereign right to grant asylum.”
On July 2, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was diverted to Austria due to false rumors that Snowden was on board.
France, Portugal, Spain and Italy refused to allow Morales’ plane, which was flying from Moscow back to Bolivia, to cross their airspace.
“We have become one with Evo and his people. This could have happened to any of us,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez told other leaders at the Mercosur summit. “There are new, more subtle ways of colonialism than the ones we encountered centuries ago.”
The presidents said they would recall their ambassadors from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal for consultations.
The US has revoked the 30-year-oldâ„¢s passport, with State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki saying the fugitive Å“should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the US.”
Snowden leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
On June 9, Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video recorded interview published by The Guardian.
In the interview, he denounced what he described as systematic surveillance of innocent US citizens, saying his “sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
Republished with permission from: Press TV