The National Security Agency secretly monitored the headquarters of the United Nations and gained access to its internal video conferencing system, according to German magazine Der Spiegel, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

From Reuters:

The U.S. National Security Agency has bugged the United Nations’ New York headquarters, Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly said on Sunday in a report on U.S. spying that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies.

Citing secret U.S. documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel said the files showed how the United States systematically spied on other states and institutions.

Der Spiegel said the European Union and the U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

In the summer of 2012, NSA experts succeeded in getting into the U.N. video conferencing system and cracking its coding system, according one of the documents cited by Der Spiegel.

Der Spiegel has previously published reports that cited NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden it had seen.  In an article co-bylined by Laura Poitras earlier this month, the outlet reported that German intelligence sends intercepted data to the NSA, after it published similar claims made in an interview with the NSA leaker weeks earlier.

On Friday, The Independent published a report in which it revealed that the UK runs an internet monitoring station in the Middle East as part of its counter-terrorism surveillance activities.  The article noted that, while it would not reveal the location of this station, the information is contained in Snowden’s leaked NSA documents. It did not, however, cite Snowden as the actual source.

The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald responded by publishing a denial from Edward Snowden that he was the source of  the information leaked to The Independent. Snowden went on to accuse the UK government of leaking the information itself.

I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

“It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.”

Greenwald indicated in that article that very few could be the source of The Independent’s report, saying, “the class of people who qualify is very small, and includes, most prominently and obviously, the UK government itself.”

While the surveillance of the UN building is alleged to have occurred in the US, this latest leak of information appears more focused on targets with a foreign intelligence operations purpose.  This seems to conflict with prior claims that the purpose of reporting Snowden’s leaks was to reveal privacy violations that infringed on the civil liberties of Americans.


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