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Brazil intelligence officials suspended following wiretapping allegations

[JURIST] Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva [official website, English version] has placed senior officials of the intelligence service Abin [official website, in Portuguese] on suspension pending investigations of a report that its agents wiretapped a variety of high-ranking government figures [JURIST report]. Silva removed Abin Director Paulo Lacerda [official profile] and Deputy Director Jose Milton Campana on Monday after meeting with the defense and justice ministers and with Supreme Federal Court [official website] president Gilmar Mendes, one of the officials who was allegedly affected. Silva also directed the Justice Ministry [official website, in Portuguese] to begin its own investigation, in addition to those being conducted by Abin and Congress, and to propose a law punishing security agents who commit invasions of privacy. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage. Estado de S. Paolo has local coverage.

Veja [media website], a Brazilian weekly newsmagazine, made the wiretapping allegations in an article in its latest issue, published late last week. Aside from Mendes, the officials said to have been wiretapped also include Silva's chief of staff and several members of Congress. The reason for the alleged wiretaps remains unclear, although Brazilian media speculate that they may have been undertaken in connection with the local elections seen as possible bellwethers for the chances of Lula's party in the country's 2010 presidential election.

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