Explaining Brazil #96: Human rights abuses, powered by CIA technology

New revelations show the CIA sold encryption tools which allowed them to spy on South American dictatorships during some of the most brutal and deadly periods of the continent's recent history

Brazil is set to hold an auction on 5G frequencies in the coming years, but they are being put under pressure by the U.S. to remove Chinese company Huawei from the dispute. Why? It’s because the U.S. suspects the Chinese government of installing backdoors into Huawei’s technology for espionage purposes. But new revelations from the Washington Post show that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been doing the same thing for decades, particularly during one of the most brutal periods of recent South American history.

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On this episode:

  • Greg Miller is a national security reporter at The Washington Post. He is the author of “The Apprentice—Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy,” published in 2018, and was among the reporters awarded with the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and 2014 for coverage of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and stories on U.S. surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden.
  • Francesca Lessa is a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University and is conducting a three-year project to study accountability for Operation Condor’s transnational crimes in South America. Her Ph.D. monograph, entitled “Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity,” was published as a paperback in 2013.

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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