NSA leaks: UK and US spying targets revealed

A handout picture released by the MoD shows an aerial view of GCHQ in Cheltenham taken on September 2, 2004. The surveillance programme was run by GCHQ, the Guardian reports

More details of people and institutions targeted by UK and US surveillance have been published by The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.

The papers say that the list of around 1,000 targets includes a European Union commissioner, humanitarian organisations and an Israeli PM.

The secret documents were leaked by the former US security contractor, Edward Snowden, now a fugitive in Russia.

They suggest over 60 countries were targets of the NSA and Britain's GCHQ.

Edward Snowden on a boat during a trip on the Moscow River (Sept 2013) Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia

The reports are likely to spark more international concern about the surveillance operations carried out by the US and the UK.

News that the National Security Agency had monitored the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel triggered a diplomatic row between Berlin and Washington in October.

Start Quote

This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states”

End Quote European Commission

The New York Times reports that GCHQ monitored the communications of foreign leaders - including African heads of state and sometimes their family members - and directors of United Nations and other relief programmes.

The paper reports that the emails of Israeli officials were monitored, including one listed as "Israeli prime minister". The PM at the time, 2009, was Ehud Olmert.

'Condemnation'

The Guardian writes that GCHQ targeted the UN development programme, Unicef, German government buildings and the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia.

The European Commission said in a statement that the claims, if true, "deserve our strongest condemnation".

"This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states."

Mr Almunia, a Spaniard, is responsible for approving mergers and investigating monopolies. He has clashed with the US firm Google.

European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia addresses the media at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Dec. 4, 2013) Joaquin Almunia is vice president of the European Commission

The NSA denies carrying out espionage to benefit US businesses.

The Dutch Liberal MEP Sophia in 't Veld described the latest claims as "shocking".

"The UK spying on its fellow EU member states in order to get an economic advantage is simply unacceptable," she said.

GCHQ did not comment directly on the claims but said it operates "under one of the strongest systems of checks and balances and democratic accountability for secret intelligence anywhere in the world".

On Thursday a White House panel recommended significant curbs on the NSA's sweeping electronic surveillance programmes.

Edward Snowden left the US in late May, taking a large cache of top secret documents with him.

He faces espionage charges over his actions and has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost in Bude, Cornwall (June 23, 2013) The papers claim that GCHQ's outpost in Cornwall was used for the monitoring

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More World stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FrogsBright...but deadly

    The vivid skin of the Amazon's golden poison arrow frog contains toxins strong enough to kill a human

Programmes

  • Islamic StateClick Watch

    Can the location of Islamic State militants be found with open source data?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.