Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Reuters)
India's strategic, political and commercial interests may have been compromised due to the US National Security Agency's (NSA) controversial surveillance programme, according to a newspaper report.
The Hindu newspaper, citing documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has said much of the NSA surveillance was focused on India's domestic politics and its strategic and commercial interests.
This contradicts the claims of Indian and US officials who had said the US agency had been trying to prevent terrorism through its interception.
The newspaper noted that the NSA, through its Prism programme, tapped into the servers of tech giants which provide services such as email, video sharing, voice-over-IPs, online chats, file transfer and social networking services.
It said Prism was used to pick content on India's nuclear and space interests and politics.
A top-secret NSA document obtained by the Hindu is said to contain an India section, which mentions numerous subjects about which content was picked from various service providers.
"This document is strong evidence of the fact that NSA surveillance in India was not restricted to tracking of phone calls, text messages and email logs by Boundless Informant, an NSA tool that was deployed quite aggressively against India," the newspaper reported.
It had earlier reported that the NSA might have accessed the domestic networks of Indian mobile operators, as it received about 6.2 billion bits of metadata through its Boundless Informant programme in one month.
"As politics, space and nuclear are mentioned as 'end products' in this document, it means that emails, texts and phones of important people related to these fields were constantly monitored and intelligence was taken from them, and then the NSA prepared official reports on the basis of raw intelligence," an anonymous official with an Indian intelligence agency told The Hindu.
"It means, they are listening in real time to what our political leaders, bureaucrats and scientists are communicating with each other," the official added.
America's NSA has been under fire around the world for its controversial surveillance programme, after Snowden, a former contractor at the agency, leaked secret documents which revealed the agency spied on leaders, top agencies and major businesses from various countries.
Among the Brics group of emerging nations, India was the NSA's primary target. In the overall list of nations spied by the NSA, India stands in fifth place.
"India is an increasingly important country in virtually every realm: economic, political, diplomatic and military. The US goal is to subject virtually everyone to mass surveillance, but it is not surprising that India has become an important surveillance target," Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with the Guardian who broke the NSA scandal story for the first time, told The Hindu in an interview.
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