In news that could further embarrass the U.S. Administration and strain its relations with allies, the Germany weekly Der Dpiegel, on Sunday, citing documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapped the United Nations (U.N.) Headquarters in New York. The weekly reported that the European Union (EU) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also were among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.
Elaborating on the revelation, the Der Spiegel report, quoted by media, said that in 2012 NSA experts succeeded in accessing the U.N. video conferencing system. They cracked its coding system which provided them access to the internal video teleconferences of the U.N.
The weekly quoted a document reporting that within three weeks the number of decoded communications rose from 12 to 458.
The weekly reported that NSA runs a bugging programme in more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide. It said that the surveillance called "Special Collection Service" is intensive and well organised and has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists.
The snooping scandal and Der Spiegel persistent coverage of the case is a hot topic in Germany which goes to elections next month.
The weekly had earlier reported that German companies were looking to rapidly bolster data protection measures after the NSA scandal came to light.
Meanwhile, observers believe, suggestions that German intelligence agencies may have cooperated with U.S. spies, could lead to a voter backlash in next month's election, against Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to win a third term in office, if it emerges that she knows more than about the cooperation, than she has so far acknowledged.
The NSA snooping on U.N. facilities, if found to be true, is illegal and breach of agreements. When they based the organisation in New York, the U.S. had agreed not to spy on the U.N.
As suspicion grows among the European partners, the fallout of the Der Spiegel will become clearer in the coming days.
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