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 267.

    Sharing data with your allies obtained by spying on your allies sound like someone is suggesting that our allied gov'ts are not acting with honesty & may be oppressing its people, a bit like the middle east where all the fighting is. Out there they fight for their freedom, whereas, here we just put the kettle on and watch eastenders or football and moan to ourselves.
    Long live ED.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.


    May the BBC perhaps explain or explore why the UK press is comparatively silent about GCHQ spying on internet traffic with the US?
    It's a bigger topic in continental EU.

    And did you know: the UK saves your car journey profiles for 2 years already through many roadside ANPR scanners? More on

    Why is nobody concerned while complaining about this here now?


  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    245. shelliest

    Unfortunately this is usually the result of whistle-blowing. Employers encourage it, but will soon rain down hell on an employee if they are implicated in anything.

    Snowden has done this on the grandest possible stage and I think most of the world is behind him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    255. scubadiver

    The internet is the final defence of the freedom of speech and distribution of uncensored news.


    What's wrong with painting a sign and taking to the streets? It's a much clearer message. The internet is saturated with uninformed, self-indulgent rubbish authored by lazy, self-important desktop warriors. It's replaced TV as the opium of the masses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    @240. Hugo Grotius

    My god! that's like saying pedophile problem? Kill all he kids, problem solved!

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    To spy on people to maintain security is, perhaps, justified.

    To spy on everyone to maintain security is an invasion of privacy.

    To spy on your allies to gain commercial advantage just isn’t cricket.

    Oh, but then I forgot, the Yanks don’t play cricket.

  • Comment number 261.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    252. torjs99 - The point is that those with nothing to hide 'ARE NOT MONITORED'. As usual this is media overkill. The resources and manpower are simply not there to monitor those leading normal lives. As usual the exremist PC brigade and those with an imagined axe to grind take over these boards and the ill-informed and ignorant believe their stupid utterances as gospel. Grow up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Spying on other countries has been going on for many years. With new electronic technology flying about in the airways I'm sure everyone is spying on everyone else. It's just something we'll need to get used to whether we like it or not. Disclosures like these will just make spying more covert, but it will continue you can be sure of that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    In the USA there is now no difference between politics & commercial corporations, politics is merely the acceptable mask Corporate America use to control the masses.

    This is why this type of spying is particularly unacceptable, the information is being used to give Corporate America the opportunities to take over & control our commercial interests & subsequently our poodle politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    This whole affair doesn't bug me at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    @240 "Shut down the internet. Problem solved."

    Absolutely not.

    The internet is the final defence of the freedom of speech and distribution of uncensored news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Today, we all live in a goldfish bowl. Spying among "Allies" is not necessarily for evil purposes, but sometimes it's best to peek through the curtains at what your neighbours are up to, in case it affects you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    I wish Li Keqiang (Chinese Premier) would call Obama to warn him about the human rights abuses he is inflicting on the world.

    Then again the irony might be to much to take.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    everyone know this is happening.... IS NOT AN EXCUSE
    i've got nothing to hide.... IS NOT AN EXCUSE

    you wouldn't accept someone coming into your house every couple of hours to check all your paperwork and see who are your friends and who you are communicating with.

    so why accept it because its on the internet

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    "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."

    Will the EU be giving "Full Clarification" to the US about US premises in the EU being bugged

    EVERY Government spies on other Governments. heck, even their own people.

    This is not news, it is common knowledge

    Just this time, somebody got caught

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    The US are spying EU for ages. The UK is just an outpost of the US. That's the reason why De Gaulle didn't want Britain part of the EU. The Union Jack flag was mainly made against the threat of being invaded by France again..
    They all bash Europe and claim they are the most united nation but Scotland think of leaving. We still have a French cinema production here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    I do wish the BBC would stop sticking that silly map 'Snowden's Flight' at the bottom of every article about him - he's in Moscow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    @232 I don't think anyone says monitoring isn't necessary full stop. What people are saying is that too many individuals are routinely monitored. There is too much data being observed, retained and shared


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