Der Spiegel: NSA Hacked UN Videocalls As Part of Surveillance Program

Search form

Der Spiegel: NSA Hacked UN Videocalls As Part of Surveillance Program

Der Spiegel: NSA Hacked UN Videocalls As Part of Surveillance Program
Mon, 8/26/2013 - by Al Jazeera
This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera

The extent of U.S. covert surveillance at the United Nations was further detailed Sunday, according to a report by Germany's leading weekly that claimed agents hacked into video conferencing at the organization’s New York headquarters.

In a development that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies, German magazine Der Spiegel said secret documents obtained by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden outlined how the NSA systematically spied on other states and institutions.

Der Spiegel said the European Union and the U.N.'s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

In the summer of 2012, NSA experts succeeded in getting into the U.N. video conferencing system and cracking its coding system, according one of the documents cited by Der Spiegel.

"The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)," Der Spiegel quoted one document as saying, adding that within three weeks the number of decoded communications rose to 458 from 12.

Internal files also show the NSA spied on the EU legation in New York after it moved to new rooms in autumn 2012. Among the documents copied by Snowden from NSA computers are plans of the EU mission, its IT infrastructure and servers.

According to the documents, the NSA runs a bugging program in more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide called "Special Collection Service". "The surveillance is intensive and well organized and has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists," wrote Der Spiegel.

'Deep Concern'

Snowden's leaks have embarrassed the U.S. by exposing the global extent of its surveillance programs. Washington has said its spies operate within the law and that the leaks have damaged national security.

A week ago Britain, a staunch U.S. ally in the intelligence field, detained the partner of a Brazil-based journalist working for London's Guardian newspaper who has led coverage of Snowden's leaks. British police said documents seized from David Miranda were "highly sensitive" and could put lives at risk if disclosed.

The Guardian last week destroyed computer equipment containing Snowden files after it was threatened with possible legal action by senior British government advisers.

In an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron published on Sunday, editors of leading Nordic newspapers said Miranda's detention and moves against the Guardian were "undermining the position of the free press throughout the world."

"(We are) deeply concerned that a stout defender of democracy and free debate such as the United Kingdom uses anti-terror legislation in order to legalise what amounts to harassment of both the paper and individuals associated with it," said the letter from Sweden's Dagens Nyheter, Finland's Helsingin Sanomat, Denmark's Politiken and Norway's Aftenposten.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to limit U.S. government surveillance programs, saying the United States could and should be more transparent.

The issue has also become a hot topic in Germany before an election next month. Some reports have suggested that German intelligence agents have cooperated with U.S. spies.

There could be a voter backlash if it emerges that Chancellor Angela Merkel, tipped to win a third term, knew more about such cooperation than she has so far acknowledged.

 

Article Tabs

Sleeping outside for an iPhone is O.K., but do it in furtherance of democratic expression and you’re in trouble, as protesters discovered during the past several weeks at Parliament Square.

Green is no longer unified, if it ever really was – as Bright Green, Lite Green, Deep Green and Dark Green tribes form around divergent environmental worldviews, theories of change, and ranges of tactics.

Do we or do we not as Americans have the right to know what we are eating? Here are initiatives from Hawaii to Colorado and from Humboldt to Josephine Counties to take back our food supply.

In order to help fund their courts, judges may be threatening people with imprisonment for their debts – and more than a third of U.S. states now allow people with debts to be jailed.

The cohesion between pop culture and politics in the 1960s made it easier to access politically charged art and music – something our generation is still searching for today.

Posted 4 days 11 hours ago

Klein's starting point is valuable for the pro-planet movement, showing the walls that are built by the system – and ourselves – to stop climate action.

Posted 2 days 10 hours ago

Heavy industry spending resembles the last-minute infusions of cash for TV ads, mailings, and staff that helped narrowly defeat campaigns for mandatory GMO labeling in California and Washington.

Posted 4 days 11 hours ago

“There are many of us here who are homeless because when we came back from fighting, we couldn’t get a job, we had mental problems and there was no assistance for us anywhere."

Posted 2 days 9 hours ago

It’s a fairly absurd situation and I’d like to document exactly what happened.

Posted 4 days 11 hours ago

Concluding the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy case for a U.S. municipality, financial creditors and pension groups representing public workers clamored to demand payments.

Sleeping outside for an iPhone is O.K., but do it in furtherance of democratic expression and you’re in trouble, as protesters discovered during the past several weeks at Parliament Square.

Outside spending "giving wealthy spenders more power than ever to buy influence over our political process and elected officials," says report.

Heavy industry spending resembles the last-minute infusions of cash for TV ads, mailings, and staff that helped narrowly defeat campaigns for mandatory GMO labeling in California and Washington.

Sign Up