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Jul 01, 2013
The US spying scandal deepened today as Secretary of State John Kerry said it is ‘not unusual’ for governments to bug the offices of their allies.
The extraordinary statement has angered leaders across the world after leaked documents revealed America spied on 38 foreign missions and embassies including the European Union’s Washington nerve centre.
As outrage grew across the EU over the damaging revelations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was first to lash out, declaring: ‘Bugging friends is unacceptable.’
False friends? John Kerry, left, said spying on foreign allies was ‘not unusual’ while Germany’s Angela Merkel, right, said, if true, the revelations are ‘unacceptable’
The document also lists the large range of spying methods used to infiltrate the ‘targets’ including bugging phones, tapping cables and intercepting transmissions with far-reaching antennae.
Speaking to a press conference today, Kerry said: ‘I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations.’
But the remarks did not wash with Merkel who responded, through a spokesman: ‘If it is confirmed that diplomatic representations of the European Union and individual European countries have been spied upon, we will clearly say that bugging friends is unacceptable.
‘We are no longer in the Cold War.’
Meanwhile, Martin Schulz, president of the EU Parliament, told French radio the United States had crossed a line.
He told France 2: ‘I was always sure that dictatorships, some authoritarian systems, tried to listen … but that measures like that are now practiced by an ally, by a friend, that is shocking, in the case that it is true.’
The rift grew as a document leaked by fugitive ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed the U.S. secretly bugged EU offices in America.
Spooks at the National Security Agency (NSA) nobbled EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the 27-member bloc’s UN office in New York, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.
Microphones were installed in the building and and the computer network compromised, ‘giving the agency access to emails and internal documents.’
One of the documents, revealed by The Guardian, reportedly pinpoints 38 embassies and missions which it refers to as ‘targets’.
The aim, it suggests, is to uncover inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other schisms between member states.
The document, dated September 2010 and classified ‘strictly confidential’, has created a diplomatic rift between America and Europe.
Another 2007 document outlines one operation, codenamed ‘Dropmire’, which involved planting a bug ‘on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC’, a reference to the encrypted fax system used to send cables to European ministries.
Martin Schultz, head of the European Parliament, has demanded ‘full clarification’ from the U.S. and said that if the report was true, it would have a ‘severe impact’.
He said it would be ‘a huge scandal’, and cause a ‘big strain’ on the relations between the EU and the U.S.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said U.S. spying was ‘out of control, adding: ‘The U.S. would do better to monitor its intelligence services instead of its allies.’
The document allegedly referred to the EU as a ‘target’. Details of European positions on trade and military matters would have been useful to those involved in negotiations between Washington and European governments, says the BBC’s Stephen Evans.
Der Spiegel claims the document, was leaked by Snowden, a contracted analyst with the CIA who has since requested asylum in Ecuador after revealing the existence of the so-called PRISM surveillance programme.
The top-secret PRISM programme collects and analyses information from internet and phone users around the world, with access to data from Google, Yahoo! and other Internet firms. U.S.officials say the information gathered is vital in the fight against global terrorism.
The news comes as both Russia and Ecuador appeared to distance themselves today from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Request: Vice president Joe Biden, left, has asked Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa, right, to reject an asylum plea by Edward Snowden and his appeal appeared to have been heeded
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin suggested Snowden would not find refuge in Moscow, adding: ‘[Snowden] is not a topic on the agenda of the Kremlin.’
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, also appeared to step back some of his country’s apparent earlier support for Snowden.
In an interview with The Associated Press, he said Snowden is ‘under the care of the Russian authorities’ and that ‘the case is not in Ecuador’s hands.’
‘If he arrives at an Ecuadorean embassy we’ll analyze his request for asylum,’ he added.
Snowden is believed to be currently staying at Moscow’s airport where he arrived last weekend from Hong Kong.
America has charged him with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Vice President Joe Biden called Correa, asking him to reject an asylum request made by Snowden, it was revealed yesterday.
‘They did discuss Snowden, but I don’t have additional details,’ Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama in Africa.
It’s the highest-level conversation between the U.S. and Ecuador that has been publicly disclosed since Ecuador began considering the possibility of offering Snowden a sanctuary.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2351883/John-Kerry-hits-claim-US-bugged-38-foreign-embassies-Angela-Merkel-brands-unacceptable.html#ixzz2XnkXFgfQ
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