Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

NSA, British spy agency targeted foreign interests, including allies, heads of aid groups

WASHINGTON — British and U.S. spy agencies targeted the office of an Israeli prime minister, the heads of international aid organizations and a European Union official who oversees antitrust issues involving U.S. technology firms, according to secret documents.

The targets were among more than 1,000 listed in documents leaked to journalists by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Though the NSA's past targeting of foreign heads of state has been reported on, the documents show a broad spectrum of interests by the NSA and its British sister agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, in more than 60 countries, according to reports the New York Times, the Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany posted online Friday.

The target lists appear in a set of GCHQ reports and date from 2008 to 2011, according to the New York Times. The lists sometimes identify which agency requested the monitoring, but more often do not.

The reports reflected some obvious targets, such as the Taliban and "various entities in Beijing," as well as some in France and Germany, allied countries in which tensions are already high over revelations of NSA spying.

The documents show that the agencies intercepted emails of several Israeli officials, including one target identified as "Israeli prime minister," the New York Times reported. At the time, January 2009, the prime minister was Ehud Olmert. Two Israeli embassies were also listed.

Israel is considered the United States' closest ally in the Middle East, but it is no secret that both countries routinely spy on each other.

Also spied on was a European Commission official who oversees competition policy and whose office has undertaken an inquiry of Google for alleged prioritization of search-engine results, among other issues. The monitoring took place in 2008 and 2009, the reports said.

Aid organizations also were targeted, the documents said. They included the United Nations Children's Fund and Medecins du Monde, an aid group that provides medical assistance in conflict zones.

The White House is reviewing the efficacy and appropriateness of U.S. surveillance activities, including how the government coordinates with its closest allies.

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