The U.S. National Security Agency monitored the telephone conversations of at least 35 world leaders, the Guardian reported Friday in the latest revelation of American spying on allies.
The report, which is based on a leaked confidential memo, comes amid the fallout from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s accusation that the U.S. tapped her cellphone.
Here’s the latest:
• In a 2006 NSA document provided by U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the agency said a U.S. official had provided it with 200 phone numbers belonging to 35 world leaders. While many of the numbers were publicly available, the trove contained “43 previously unknown phone numbers.” The foreign leaders whose phones were tapped were not identified.
• However, the surveillance resulted in “little reportable intelligence,” the memo said, because the numbers “appear not to be used for sensitive discussions.” But it yielded “other numbers that have subsequently been tasked,” the memo says.
• In light of “this success,” the NSA asked staff to “share their rolodexes or phone lists” for foreign political or military leaders, saying it “welcomes such information!”
• The memo comes as a German delegation is preparing to travel “shortly“ to the U.S. for talks about the spying allegations, including those involving Ms. Merkel. The heads of Germany’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies will participate in the talks with the White House and NSA, a government spokesman said, though the exact composition of the team had yet to be determined.
• Along with Germany, France insisted Friday that new surveillance rules should be agreed upon with the U.S. this year. French President Francois Hollande said “what is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States.” He insisted that “trust has to be restored and reinforced.” Earlier this week, a report said the U.S. swept up 70 million French telephone records and text messages and recorded some private conversations.
With reports from The Associated Press