Police listened to rain forest activist Paulo Adario’s phone conversations with top Brazilian officials over a period of 13 hours during the COP15 conference, Berlingske and Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo have revealed.
Adario is the head of Greenpeace Brazil’s Amazon campaign and was in Copenhagen as an official member of Brazil's delegation to the UN climate conference.
Brazil’s environment minister at the time of the COP15 conference, Carlos Minc, confirmed that top Brazilian officials were in frequent telephone conversations with Adario during the conference and said he was very concerned about the spying revelations.
“This is very serious. I think the Brazilian government deserves an explanation and I will be requesting one,” he told Berlingske.
Adario told the newspaper he was shocked.
“Imagine. This meeting was a UN event, a global UN meeting in which the planet’s future was on the agenda and it turns out that there was espionage and that my phone was tapped,” he said.
According to Berlingske, Copenhagen Police listened to Adario’s phone conversations based on the suspicion that he intended to disrupt US President Barack Obama’s arrival to Copenhagen, a charge which the activist dismissed as absurd.
Berlingske obtained a ruling from the City Court of Copenhagen that rejected a police request to tap Adario’s phone.
Police have now admitted that the decision to tap the phone and listen to the Brazilian delegation’s internal discussions was a mistake.
“That certainly wasn’t the intention,” police spokesman Thorkild Fogde told Berlingske.
Pernille Skipper, a spokeswoman for left-wing party the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), called the revelations “embarrassing”.
“Because we are talking about a man who was a member of Brazil’s delegation, the bugging could be seen as espionage,” she told Berlingske.
Enhedslisten and the Socialist People’s Party plan to demand answers from the current justice minister, Karen Hækkerup.
Earlier this year, American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA spied on other governments at the Copenhagen climate talks.