Report: US spied on EU diplomats; Biden speaks with Ecuador

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 8:21am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 8:25am

BRUSSELS — The U.S. National Security Agency allegedly conducted spying on European Union diplomats, according to classified documents taken by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported by German news magazine Spiegel on Saturday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden asked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa not to grant asylum to Snowden, Correa said Saturday.

The NSA bugged EU offices in Washington and at the United Nations in New York and infiltrated internal computer networks, allowing the U.S. spy agency to listen to conversations and read e-mails and other documents, according to a classified document from September 2010.

The NSA also allegedly conducted a wiretapping operation of the EU in Brussels, Spiegel reported.

It pointed to a series of failed phone calls over more than five years that allegedly stemmed from a telemaintenance site in the Justus Lipsius building, which is home to the EU Council of Ministers. The calls were traced to the NATO headquarters in the suburb of Evere, where NSA experts were working.

The White House and am EU spokeswoman both declined to comment on the report.

Later Saturday, the Guardian newspaper quoted another former NSA employee as claiming at least seven European countries have regularly shared digital communications data with the agency.

Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy all have secret agreements to share intelligence data with the NSA, including phone and Internet communications, Wayne Madsen said.

He said he chose to make the details public because he was angered by the outrage of European leaders after details of the NSA surveillance of phone and Internet records became public, saying they had detailed only a "half story" about their involvement.

All seven countries and the United States have access to a transatlantic cable that allows them to collect information about telephone calls, e-mails and Internet use, Madsen said.

Biden said in a telephone conversation with Correa that Snowden was a fugitive from justice and did not have a valid passport.

Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador, but has remained in a Moscow airport for days after fleeing the United States via Hong Kong. He is accused of leaking information about a vast U.S. spying program that examined telephone and Internet records.

Ecuadorian and Russian officials were reportedly in talks over Snowden's fate, Russian broadcaster Rossiya 24 reported.

Correa said he told Biden that Snowden's request could only be processed once he was on Ecuadorian soil. Correa also noted that the U.S. had not turned over to Ecuador brothers William and Roberto Isaias, who are wanted for banking crimes and also did not possess passports from their country.

The White House confirmed that Biden spoke with Correa, but did not provide a readout, except to say the men discussed Snowden's case.

The situation has strained relations between the U.S. and Ecuador, with Ecuador claiming Thursday it no longer wanted trade privileges granted by Washington.


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