The US has reportedly been bugging EU offices in Washington and New York, in the latest of a series of revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA bugged EU offices in Washington and at the United Nations in New York and infiltrated internal computer networks, allowing the US spy agency to listen to conversations and read emails and other documents, according to a classified document from September 2010 reported by German news magazine Der Spiegel. It said Snowden showed its reporters parts of the secret document. The NSA also allegedly conducted a wiretapping operation of the EU in Brussels, Der Spiegel reported.
It pointed to a series of failed phone calls over more than five years that allegedly stemmed from a telemaintenance site in the Justus Lipsius building, which is home to the EU Council of Ministers. The calls were traced to the NATO headquarters in the suburb of Evere, where NSA experts were working. The White House and an EU spokeswoman both declined to comment on the report.
Meanwhile, US vice-president Joe Biden asked Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa not to grant asylum to Snowden, Correa said on Saturday.
Mr Biden said in a telephone conversation that Mr Snowden was a fugitive from justice and did not have a valid passport. Mr Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador, but has remained in a Moscow airport for days after fleeing the United States via Hong Kong. He is accused of leaking information about a vast US spying program that examined telephone and internet records.
Ecuadorian and Russian officials were reportedly in talks over Mr Snowden's fate, Russian broadcaster Rossiya 24 reported. Mr Correa said he told Mr Biden that Mr Snowden's request could only be processed once he was on Ecuadorian soil. Mr Correa also noted that the US had not turned over to Ecuador brothers William and Roberto Isaias, who are wanted for banking crimes and also did not possess passports from their country. The White House confirmed that Mr Biden spoke with Mr Correa, but gave no further details.
The situation has strained relations between the US and Ecuador, with Ecuador claiming it no longer wanted trade privileges granted by the US.
The latest allegations in Der Spiegel could be highly damaging to US-EU relations. EU officials have already demanded an explanation from the US on the alleged bugging.
"On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations," Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament said in a statement. The accusations, if proven true, would have a "severe impact" on transatlantic relations, Mr Schulz warned, saying he was "deeply worried and shocked" by the report.
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