World News

    Spain Summons US Ambassador on NSA Tracking

    Spain has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos to address allegations that the U.S. tracked more than 60 million Spanish phone calls in a single month.

    Two Spanish newspapers, El Mundo and El Pais, reported Monday that the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency monitored the calls last December 10 through January 8 this year. The reports said the U.S. collected the numbers of the calls and their duration, but not their content.

    El Mundo says the surveillance also included intrusions into personal information through Internet browsers, email and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    The reports were based on some of the massive number of documents leaked by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. fugitive now living in Russia. In recent days, European media have reported similar U.S. spying in France, and that the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was monitored for several years, along with spying on 34 other world leaders.

    European leaders, among the staunchest American allies, have denounced the U.S. monitoring. The European Union and Germany are sending envoys to Washington to condemn it and to seek an end to the monitoring. Chancellor Merkel called U.S. President Barack Obama last week to voice her personal protest, saying that international friends cannot condone such snooping.

    The NSA says it engages in spying to try to thwart terrorist attacks. But it said Sunday that on Mr. Obama's order it is reviewing its intelligence-gathering operations. The secretive agency said it is seeking "to ensure that we properly account for the security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share."



    Meanwhile, a leading U.S. newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, reported that Mr. Obama went nearly five years without knowing that his own spies were bugging the phones of the world leaders, including Chancellor Merkel, and that the program has now ended.

    The newspaper, in a report Monday citing anonymous U.S. officials, says the president learned of the snooping after ordering an internal review a few months ago. The White House said it is not monitoring Ms. Merkel's mobile phones and will not do so in future. But it has declined comment on whether the NSA spied on her devices in the past.

    The Wall Street Journal account says the review uncovered that the NSA had tapped the phones of the world leaders, and that the NSA ended most of the program after the White House learned of the operation.

    Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it would not have been practical to brief the president on all of them.

    However, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag quoted an unnamed official of the NSA as saying President Obama received an NSA briefing in 2010, informing him that U.S. spies were monitoring Chancellor Merkel's mobile communications.

    The NSA has since denied the president ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel.

    Bild am Sonntag quoted Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich Sunday as saying the allegations have "shaken" Berlin's trust in Washington, a longtime ally.

    Friedrich told the newspaper that "if the Americans intercepted mobile phone communications in Germany, they broke German law" and said that would be an "unacceptable violation of German sovereignty."

    In a separate report, German weekly Der Spiegel said the NSA may have been bugging Ms. Merkel's mobile phone as early as 2002 when she served as opposition leader. She took office as chancellor in 2005.

    Former NSA contractor Snowden leaked documents earlier this year purporting to show sweeping U.S. surveillance of Internet searches and telephone records of U.S. citizens and world leaders.

    Germany is working with Brazil on a draft U.N. General Assembly resolution to guarantee privacy in electronic communications. U.N. diplomats say it would call for extending the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to Internet activities, but would not mention the United States.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora