Monday, August 26, 2013
German weekly publication Der Spiegel yesterday accused the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) of spying on the United Nations headquarters in New York. The magazine claims to have access to official NSA documents, provided by former NSA and CIA computer specialist and current fugitive Edward Snowden.
If the allegations of bugging are confirmed, it would mean that the United States has breached International Treaties including the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Treaty states that countries must not carry out covert operations that relate to the UN’s activities.
“The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action”, the Convention stipulates.
The documents analysed by Der Spiegel indicate that the NSA runs bugging programs in more than 80 embassies and consulates across the globe, in what is reportedly called the “Special Collection Service”.
Der Spiegel claimed that, according to their intelligence, the NSA was able to bug the UN headquarters by hacking into its video conferencing system in the summer of 2012. Their article included quotes from the leaked documents like ““The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)”.
Allegedly, decoded UN communications rose from 12 to 458 within three weeks of the NSA gaining access. Analysed documents also indicated the NSA found evidence Chinese spies were also monitoring the UN, and began logging what the Chinese were accessing.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union are said to be among the organisations NSA spies have been targeting. The US government has previously denied any wrongdoing by the NSA, although President Barack Obama this month announced plans to curb government spying activities.