Tue, Oct 29, 2013 - Page 7 News List

NSA tracked 60.5m phone calls in Spain: newspaper

SCANDAL GROWS:The report of the US agency’s snooping in Spain comes amid EU anger at the US over a wave of spying claims, but said call content was not recorded

AFP, MADRID and WASHINGTON

The US embassy in Germany is seen in a thermal image taken with an infrared camera in Berlin on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

US security services tracked 60.5 million telephone calls in Spain in a single month, according to a leaked document published in a Spanish newspaper yesterday, as European outrage over US snooping deepened.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) tracked the origin and destination of the calls and their duration, US blogger Glenn Greenwald said in a story in El Mundo, which published a classified graph of 30 days of call tracing.

Greenwald, who jointly authored the article, said he had access to the previously secret documents, which were obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The news broke hours before Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were to meet US Ambassador to Spain James Costos, who has been summoned to provide information about alleged US spying on Spanish telecommunications.

The reported spying in Spain adds to a growing scandal over US eavesdropping on ordinary citizens and world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose calls may have been intercepted as early as 2002, according to the German press.

The graph published in El Mundo showed the daily volume of calls traced in the 30 days to Jan. 8. Initials at the top of the page included DNR (dialed number recognition), the article said.

The NSA tracked the origin, destination and duration of phone calls — a criminal offence in Spain without the proper legal authority — but not their content, the paper said.

On a single day, Dec. 11, the NSA tracked more than 3.5 million calls on Spanish soil, the peak in the 30-day period covered by the graph.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week said he had no evidence that Spain had been spied on, but was calling in Costos to seek information.

At a summit last week, the 28 EU leaders approved a statement which said they valued the relationship with the US, but it had to be based on trust and confidence, especially in intelligence matters.

France and Germany are to lead efforts to reach a new understanding with Washington by the end of this year.

Rajoy said that for the moment, Spain would not join Berlin and Paris in this effort and reiterated that intelligence issues were the responsibility of national governments, not the EU.

Meanwhile, the US on Sunday denied that US President Barack Obama had been informed years ago that US spy agencies were monitoring Merkel’s phone calls.

German media reported that eavesdropping on Merkel’s phone may have started when she was Germany’s main opposition leader and three years before she became chancellor.

The NSA stopped spying on Merkel after the White House learned of the snooping in an internal mid-year review, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the first public acknowledgement that there was US eavesdropping.

The review, which Obama ordered in August last year, showed that the NSA had tapped the phones of about 35 world leaders. The White House ended programs tracking several of the leaders including Merkel, the Journal said.

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