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

Grappling with a shrinking budget and limited manpower, the EPA now pursues criminal charges in “fewer than one-half of one percent” of total legal violations.

A lot has changed since we last published this report during the Occupy movement in 2011. With major protests in the news again, we decided it's time to update our cell phone guide for protestors.

Indigenous communities on the front-lines of tar sands extraction lead a spiritual march through a landscape of poisonous lakes, dead earth, open-pit mines, and refineries.

With a shift in media underway, there's an opportunity for alternative online news sources to turn youth apathy into engagement and cynicism into a demand for social and political change.

Thousands of climate activists from across Europe are expected to join local protesters on the German-Polish border for a mass demonstration against a huge coal mining project.

Public university-paid social scientists identify "threats" from mass movements and Muslim NGOs on behalf of U.S. military intelligence.

Posted 5 days 4 hours ago

An Austin grand jury asserts Perry abused his official powers by promising – then carrying out – a veto on $7.5 million in funding for public corruption prosecutors.

Posted 5 days 4 hours ago

Groups engaged in activism for social change are susceptible to being ranked higher on the radicalism threat-scale by the Pentagon's Minerva research program.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago

Can peacefully exercising First Amendment rights create lasting change if police have weaponry and, apparently, legal authority to immediately and violently disperse crowds?

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago

Arizona State University’s Defense Department-sponsored data-mining algorithms would enhance CIA "signature" drone strike targeting.

Posted 2 days 23 hours ago

If Mitt Romney had prevailed last November, would things really be that much worse than they already are? Since Obama's re-election 19 weeks ago, big banks, fossil fuels and drone warfare have been the favorites.

The Revolution is Love

There is a famous quote by the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara: "At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love."

Five Misconceptions About our Tattered Safety Net

More than any other issue over the next four years, we need to address the growing divide in our nation, to tone down our winner-take-all philosophy, to provide job opportunities for people who want to contribute to society.

Over the past decade or so our elected representatives have slowly but surely handed the power to decide our elections over to a handful of giant, mostly Republican-connected corporations.

Japanese Activism Goes Nuclear

Saying no to nuclear power, Japanese demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who chose to restart the country's nuclear industry despite the horrors of Fukushima.

Sign Up