Spain’s public prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the US spy agency has conducted illegal surveillance operations on millions of Spanish citizens.
Spain’s Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce called for an information gathering process to determine whether a crime was committed and if Spain should consider opening a formal investigation, his office said in a statement on Tuesday.
The public prosecutor’s office said it would “determine the reality of the facts and their circumstances” on whether the alleged large-scale spying on Spanish citizens could involve criminal aspects and evaluate their eventual penal consequences.
The statement comes a day after the Spanish Foreign Ministry summoned American Ambassador James Costos regarding media reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on 60 million Spanish telephone calls in a single month.
Spain has warned that mutual trust between Madrid and Washington could be broken if the allegations prove to be true.
Several other countries have also summoned US ambassadors to explain the NSA spying activities.
European countries announced they will send a nine-member delegation to Washington to seek answers to US’ massive spying activities on telephone and online communications of citizens and more than 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This is while Germany and Brazil are spearheading efforts to draft a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn US spying on other countries. The measure is gaining international support as 21 countries including France and Mexico have so far joined talks to hammer out the resolution.
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Spain announces inquiry into alleged surveillance of citizens by NSA
Inquiry to determine whether surveillance of private phone calls and emails by NSA could be prosecuted under Spanish law
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 29 October 2013 14.01 EDT
A Spanish citizen protests alleged surveillance by the US National Security Agency. Photograph: Vallejo/ vallejo/Demotix/Corbis
Spain‘s public prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday that it had launched a preliminary inquiry into the alleged widespread surveillance of Spanish citizens’ private phone calls and emails by the US National Security Agency, to determine whether it could be prosecuted under Spanish law.
It was reported on Monday that the NSA had monitored 60.5m Spanish phone calls in the space of one month alone, in the latest revelations from the documents leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The attorney general, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, issued a statement saying that, having seen the media reports “about a possible interception and irregular access to telephonic and/or electronic metadata … by foreign official services” it would determine the exact nature of any potential crime and whether this could be punished under Spanish law.
The outcry comes days after it emerged that the NSA spied on the phone calls of scores of allies, including the personal phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
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European spy services shared phone data with US in many cases: NSA chief
WASHINGTON: US espionage chiefs hit back on Tuesday in a row over mass spying, saying reports that American eavesdroppers scooped up millions of phone records in Europe, were “completely false.”
In a stunning twist to the transatlantic spying storm, General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, said that in many cases European spy agencies had accessed phone records and shared them with the NSA.
The revelations came as a senior official said President Barack Obama was considering banning US spies from tapping the telephones of allied leaders, in the wake of German outrage over alleged snooping on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s communications.
America’s European allies have spent days angrily protesting after newspaper reports, based on leaks from fugitive analyst Edward Snowden, that Washington collected tens of millions of telephone calls and online communications in Europe as part as a vast anti terror sweep.
But two top spy agency chiefs testifying before Congress said the reports were based on a misunderstanding of information passed by Snowden to European newspapers.
“The assertions by reporters in France, Spain, Italy that NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls are completely false,” Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee.
“To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens,” he said.
Hours earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that electronic spying was carried out by the intelligence agencies of France and Spain — outside their own borders and sometimes in war zones — and was then passed onto the NSA.
The claims, if true, could embarrass European governments which have vehemently protested to the United States about alleged overreaching and infringments on the privacy of its citizens by the NSA.
Alexander said journalists had misinterpreted leaked data about the alleged spying operations.
“They cite as evidence screen shots of the results of a web tool used for data management purposes, but both they and the person who stole the classified data did not understand what they were looking at,” he said.
Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, backed up claims that the European media reports were wrong.
“This was not the United States collecting on France and Germany. This was France and Germany collecting. And it had nothing to do with their citizens, it had to do with collecting in NATO areas of war, like Afghanistan,” she said.
There was no immediate comment from the spy agencies in the European countries mentioned.
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Spain colluded in NSA spying on its citizens, Spanish newspaper reports
El Mundo says it has document detailing collaboration between US intelligence agency and foreign countries
- theguardian.com, Wednesday 30 October 2013 07.41 EDT
A man protests against NSA spying outside the foreign ministry in Madrid. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters
The widespread surveillance of Spanish citizens by the US National Security Agency, which caused outrage when it was reported this week, was the product of a collaboration with Spain‘s intelligence services, according to one Spanish newspaper.
In the latest revelations to emerge from the documents leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Spanish agents not only knew about the work of the NSA but also facilitated it, El Mundo reports.
An NSA document entitled “Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners” reportedly shows how the US relies on the collaboration of many countries to give it access to intelligence information, including electronic metadata.
According to the document seen by El Mundo, the US classifies cooperation with various countries on four different levels. In the first group – “Comprehensive Cooperation” – are the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The second group – “Focused Cooperation” – of which Spain is a member, includes 19 countries, all of them European, apart from Japan and South Korea. The third group – “Limited cooperation” – consists of countries such as France, Israel, India and Pakistan; while the fourth – “Exceptional Cooperation” – is made up of countries that the US considers to be hostile to its interests.
The reports come a day after the director of the NSA, General Keith B Alexander, testified before the US house intelligence committee that suggestions the agency monitored millions of calls in Spain, France and Italy were “completely false” and that this data had been at least partially collected by the intelligence services of those countries and then passed on to the NSA.
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