Print options

August 25, 2013

German News Report says US Spied on United Nations

by VOA News

A leading German news magazine says the U.S. National Security Agency, NSA, has eavesdropped on the United Nations, penetrating the world body's internal video conference system to decode data.

Der Spiegel, in a report Sunday, linked its latest U.S. spy claim to secret files released by fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The report did not say when the magazine acquired the information, or whether it came directly from Snowden. It alleges the spying took place in mid-2012.

The report quotes an NSA document in which the writer boasts of having gained access to the U.N.'s internal video teleconferencing. Der Spiegel says that within the next three weeks, the number of decoded U.N. documents rose from 12 to 458.

The magazine also quotes NSA documents saying the presence of eavesdropping devices in embassies and consulates should be kept secret "at all costs" to avoid "causing serious damage" with the affected countries.

There was no immediate U.S. comment on the Der Spiegel report.

Der Spiegel also says the documents show the NSA at one point discovered Chinese intelligence services spying on the United Nations.

In late June, the magazine touched off controversy when it reported the NSA had placed listening devices inside European Union offices in Washington, Brussels and the United Nations.

That report said the NSA also infiltrated EU computers to monitor telephone conversations, e-mails and other documents.

The revelations prompted telephone talks between President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and an emergency meeting of high-level U.S. and German security officials. French President Francois Hollande and EU Parliament President Martin Schulz also were critical.

Former NSA contractor Snowden fled the United States in June, and then provided troves of classified material about NSA surveillance practices to U.S. and foreign media, including Der Spiegel. He currently resides in Russia, which early this month granted him temporary asylum.

He faces U.S. federal charges of espionage, and the theft and conversion of government property.