EU concern over Der Spiegel claim of US spying


BBC's Stephen Evans said reaction in Europe is "shock and dismay"

The head of the European Parliament has demanded "full clarification" from the US over a report that key EU premises in America have been bugged.

Martin Schulz said that if this was true, it would have a "severe impact" on ties between the EU and the US.

The report, carried by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, cites a secret 2010 document alleging that the US spied on EU offices in New York and Washington.

Fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden leaked the paper, Der Spiegel says.

Mr Snowden - a former contractor for the CIA and also the National Security Agency (NSA) - has since requested asylum in Ecuador.

According to the document - which Der Spiegel says comes from the NSA - the agency spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the 27-member bloc's UN office in New York.

The document also allegedly refers to the EU as a "target".

It is not known what information US spies might have got, but details of European positions on trade and military matters would have been useful to those involved in negotiations between Washington and European governments, the BBC's Stephen Evans says.

'Polite request'

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Schulz said: "On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations."

Der Spiegel also quotes Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn as saying: "If these reports are true, it's disgusting. The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies."

The US government has so far made no public comments on Der Spiegel's report.

Mr Snowden is believed to be currently staying at Moscow's airport. He arrived there last weekend from Hong Kong, where he had been staying since he revealed details of top secret US surveillance programmes.

The US 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.

On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa held a telephone conversation about Mr Snowden's asylum request.

According to Mr Correa, Mr Biden had "passed on a polite request from the United States to reject the request".

The left-wing Ecuadorean leader said his answer was: "Mr vice-president, thanks for calling. We hold the United States in high regard. We did not seek to be in this situation."

If Mr Snowden ever came to "Ecuadoran soil" with his request, he added, "the first people whose opinion we will seek is that of the United States".

Quito earlier said it was willing to consider Mr Snowden's request but only when he was physically in the Latin American country.

Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said only that Mr Biden and Mr Correa had held a wide-ranging conversation.



20 May: Snowden flies from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

5 June: From Hong Kong, Snowden discloses details of what he describes as a vast US phone and internet surveillance programme to the UK's Guardian newspaper.


23 June: Snowden leaves Hong Kong on a flight to Moscow. He is currently thought to remain airside at Sheremetyevo airport.


From Moscow, Snowden could fly to Cuba, en route to Ecuador, which has said it is "analysing" whether to grant him asylum.


Venezuela had also been considered a possible destination for Snowden, however it is thought he would only pass through on his way to Ecuador.


Snowden is reported to have requested asylum in Ecuador, which previously granted haven to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    GCHQ has recorded and passed all UK phonecalls to the US since 1980 at least - this was known at the time. The dreaded UK lack of memory function cuts in again!
    Snowden is a REAL hero - not some kid with a gun. What I really want to know is why the UK unholy "alliance"/reliance on the US/...

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Should we be surprised? The Americans have been using ECHELON for industrial espionage for 20 years now. In one case reported by the BBC, this allegedly cost Airbus a $6bn contract. The European Parliament published a report 12 years ago advising commercial communications should be encrypted to protected against US interception.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    We have to offer Abu Qatada asylum because he won't get a fair trial in Jordan.

    And here we have a man who has already been labelled a traitor, and yet we aren't offering him asylum? You know, the British people would be pleased to offer someone like this asylum - its what asylum is for. To protect those persecuted by rogue states. He's pointed out how the USA are illegally spying on US!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Anyone remember the hoo-ha caused by this, and then too the EU raised concerns and rightly so:
    ECHELON Interception System:
    I wonder if this is also being used?
    This US UK Special relationship, what really is that exactly?
    Slowly the truth will appear.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    We are beginning to see the real scale & purpose behind this, not a lot to do with preventing terrorism or child pornography, all to do with political & commercial advantage for the USA against all others including those who are supposed to be their allies.

    Watergate was just a dripping tap compared to this torrent of abuse of power, GCHQ are also far from innocent in this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    As we are so often told what does it mater if you have done nothing wrong

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    The BBC are giving a lot of time to this "spys are spying" story.

    So they might be interested in following up on the news I have that round my way there are bakers who are baking and painters who paint.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Not sure why the fuss, all EU members bug and spy on other nations. Its called espionage, the fact that the US service has been exposed is down to whistleblowing, you can be sure that plenty of German, French, Italian and other EU members are worried about whistleblowers in their own backyard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    We know GHCQ and the NSA are spying on us, yet the US and UK are far too apathetic to protest it in any meaningful way, enjoy your police state, I'll be getting out asap before my name ends up on a list of "subversives" because they're no doubt reading this post.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    As a system administrator Snowden had access to a lot of data but definitely not to all, despite creating keys to areas closed to him.

    So he's a megalomaniac (just as Assange) overblowing his importance.

    As for EU. Since most of EU countries are also NATO members what is there for US to spy on considering that they get all key data officially?

    [just like EU/NATO gets all Pentagon info]

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Lets be honest none of this should surprise anyone, this shouldn't be news. Every government has spied on everyone else since the beginning of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why does the BBC report so little about UK bugging and so much about the US? I want to know more about Tempora and its alleged legal basis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    While it may seem the US obsession for spying is about control it has been so ingrained since the cold war that everyone is a risk they now have to spy on everyone.
    They spy on enemy nations, friendly nations and their own citizens.

    Its not control its fear, for fears sake.

    What they need is a good risk assessor who can tell them what they don't need to spy on, it could save them millions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Looking forward to seeing how this is explained as 'anti-terrorism' activity...

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Jota180 says it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    "The US government has so far made no public comments on the Spiegel's report."

    Shouldn't there have been an immediate and robust denial?

    Unless of course . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Just shows how paranoid the US is, still reds under the bed syndrome, they even spy on their friends, if we have so called friends like this who needs enemies. !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Why did they bother, the UK government would have given them what they wanted anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Can't work out where I sit on the subject of Snowden, hero or villain - I just don't know.

    But if the EU is being bugged by the US, then maybe we should give him safe haven status. And this from someone who has many good American friends and like to visit.

    I don't spy on my best friends....


Page 63 of 64


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