WASHINGTON — In the latest fallout from the Edward Snowden affair, the president of Brazil canceled a state visit to Washington out of anger that the National Security Agency had spied on her and other Brazilian officials, deepening a rift with the Obama administration.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday called off the high-profile visit that both governments had planned for Oct. 23. A White House spokesman sought to downplay the diplomatic snub by a key ally and trading partner, and described the decision to indefinitely postpone the visit as mutual.
The White House said in a statement that Rousseff and President Barack Obama had agreed that the state visit — an elaborate affair with meetings and a formal dinner with toasts — would be better staged when relations between the two nations were less tense.
Obama "understands and regrets" the concern that disclosures about U.S. spying has generated in Brazil, the statement said. "He is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship."
A statement from the Brazilian president's office was harsher, citing a "lack of ... explanations and commitment to cease interceptive activities" for the cancellation.
"The illegal interception of communications data belonging to citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government are a grave matter, an assault on national sovereignty and individual rights, and are incompatible with relations between friendly nations," the statement said.
Since July, Brazilian news organizations have carried three reports based on classified documents leaked by Snowden, a former systems administrator at an NSA listening post. One indicated the intelligence agency had intercepted communications between Rousseff and her aides, among other senior officials.