UN to probe claims US spied on its meetings

"We are aware of the reports, and we intend to be in touch with the relevant authorities on this," a UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, told reporters on Monday, adding that this meant the US administration.

Haq told reporters the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations treaty of 1961 has become "well established international law, therefore member states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions".

A report by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine said the US National Security Agency (NSA) had broken the encryption code to allow US intelligence to listen in to UN video conferences.

The measure also involved the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the report said quoting NSA documents. The IAEA has played a key role monitoring Iran's nuclear programme.

It was the latest in a series of revelations about US spying on embassies and UN agencies made since former US analyst Edward Snowden started revealing details of US intelligence tactics.


"Whenever we have received this information in the past we have taken it up with the relevant authorities," Haq said.

US's response
Asked about the issue, the US state department said "the US government will respond through diplomatic channels to our partners and allies around the world when they raise concerns".

Spokesperson Marie Harf insisted the US values and cooperates with the UN, often to "share information, including intelligence".

Der Spiegel said the NSA broke the encryption in mid-2012 and within weeks, had dramatically increased its surveillance of UN communications.

The NSA once allegedly caught the Chinese secret services eavesdropping on the UN in 2011, it added, quoting an internal report.

Der Spiegel also claims that the US agency kept tabs on the European Union after it moved into new offices in New York in September 2012.

Among documents provided by Snowden were plans of the EU's premises, which the NSA codenamed "Apalachee".

Earlier reports in Der Spiegel and Britain's Guardian newspaper have detailed alleged widespread NSA surveillance of EU offices, including diplomatic missions in Washington and at the United Nations in New York.

Revelations about NSA snooping made by Snowden have sparked outrage in Europe. – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Housing activists want probe into City of Cape Town ‘spying’

The City of Cape Town admits it monitors the social-media pages of housing activists but denies that this is spying, as tensions surrounding land occupations increase

Pandemics: A social justice issue

Framing coronavirus as a security threat is not the only possible approach

Steal my data, feed me lies

Snowdon's book tells the world about his work for the US government, and how he grew disaffected with what they were up to

Is your smart city spying on you?

Social and surveillance states underline the need for inclusive tech

Canada takes refugees who sheltered NSA whistle-blower Snowden

Vanessa Rodel and her daughter arrived in Toronto on Monday night after years of harassment in Hong Kong

If the 12 indicted Russians never face trial in the US, can anything be gained?

The indictments are an important step in the effort to determine what happened during the 2016 US elections
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday