NSA, UK spied on Israeli leaders, UN, and EU officials


The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, as seen from the air, January 29, 2010. New documents show the NSA has targeted the porn viewing habits of Muslim "radicalizers" in order to discredit them.


Saul Loeb

The United States and Britain allegedly spied on Israeli leaders, EU officials and officials at the United Nations, according to newly released documents from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Guardian and The New York Times reported Friday that foreign energy companies and aid agencies were also targets of the NSA and Britain's GCHQ.

The reports said that the NSA had analyzed email traffic between Israel's prime minister, defense minister and his chief of staff in 2009.

French defense company Thales and the French oil and gas company Total were listed as targets, as was the aid group Medecins du Monde.

European competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, who was key to anti-monopoly investigations against Google, was also listed as a possible target, although it's unclear if he was a target of spying.

The NSA has said that it does not conduct spying on behalf of companies in the United States.

"We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line," a spokeswoman said.

"The intelligence community's efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security." 

The documents also show that Britain sought to spy on its EU allies and their embassies around the world, revelations that are already creating tensions between London and Brussels.

A European Commission spokesperson said the allegations “if proven true, are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation.”

“The commission will raise these new allegations with US and UK authorities. This is not the type of behavior that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states.”

A representative of Medecins du Monde said: “We are an independent health charity delivering impartial care in some of the poorest places, including war zones. There is absolutely no reason for our operations to be secretly monitored.”

Israel wasn't troubled by the allegations of spying and said that the security breach was inconsequential.

"The chance that security- or intelligence-related damage was done by this interception is zero," former Israel leader Ehud Olmert's office said, according to Haaretz.

The news comes at the heels of a report by a US government committee that said NSA spying should be narrowed only to national security interests of the US and its allies.

The reports condemned spying for commercial gain or to boost domestic industries.

Leaks by Snowden began in early June and have showed the extent of the NSA's massive spying powers.

World leaders like Brazil's Dilma Roussef and Germany's Angela Merkel were outraged at past reports that they had been spied on by the US.

Documents also showed that along with tracking millions of foreign phone calls, emails and other communications, US and British security agencies had spied on foreign companies and foreign leaders during trade negotiations.