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New NSA data provokes anger in Europe

  • Article by: Michael Birnbaum
  • Washington Post
  • June 30, 2013 - 8:43 PM

– European leaders reacted with fury on Sunday to allegations in a German magazine that the United States had conducted a wide-ranging effort to monitor European Union diplomatic offices and computer networks, with some saying that they expected such surveillance from enemies, not their closest economic partner.

It was the latest fallout from National Security Agency information apparently leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor whose detailing of classified information on the agency’s programs has shined a rare light on U.S. surveillance efforts that range far wider than previously understood.

Underscoring the depth of the European anger over the allegations, top officials from several European countries said that the reports of spying would figure into the future of transatlantic trade talks that began in June. The efforts would create the world’s largest free-trade zone, and European officials said Sunday that they suspected the target of U.S. intelligence interest was economic information, not military.

“Partners do not spy on each other,” said European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding at a public event in Luxembourg on Sunday. “We cannot negotiate over a big transatlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators.”

Other European leaders said they felt blindsided by the allegations.

“It is shocking that the United States take measures against their most important, their nearest allies, comparable to measures taken in the past by the KGB, by the secret service of the Soviet Union,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in Brussels on Sunday.

Germany’s Der Spiegel newsmagazine reported this weekend that the NSA had placed listening devices in E.U. diplomatic offices in Washington and New York, had breached an E.U. computer network that provided access to internal e-mails and documents, and had accessed phone lines in E.U. headquarters in Brussels in order to monitor top officials’ phone conversations.

The magazine said that it had seen portions of 2010 documents from Snowden, although it did not publish them on its website nor did it quote from them directly.

Later Sunday Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported that another document lists 38 embassies and missions that U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring in some way.

Der Spiegel on Sunday separately reported that the NSA monitored 500 million e-mails, phone calls and text messages in Germany every month, more than any European peer.

© 2014 Star Tribune