Newly revealed documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal the National Security Agency targeted and intercepted the email communications of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the European Union’s competition minister, and agencies like the United Nations, various German government entities and African charities.
The Guardian reports that a January 2009 Government Communications Headquarters document details how the British intelligence agency, along with the NSA, targeted Olmert’s email along with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff Yoni Koren.
Targets revealed in the document also include the UN Development Program, Unicef, the head of the Economic Community of West African States, French Defense contractor Thales Group and Médecins du Monde — a French conflict zone medical provider.
The targets also included European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia, who is known for numerous investigations into companies like Google and Microsoft over privacy concerns, as well as monopoly investigations into major EU companies.
The British and U.S. agencies also surveilled communications from African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Nicolas Imboden from the non-profit IDEAS center in Geneva, Deputy Head of the Africa Finance Corporation Solomon Asamoah and multiple African heads of state.
German government communications between Germany and Georgia, Turkey, and Rwanda were also intercepted, according to the document, which does not state the reason for any of the targets included on the list.
The facility used to conduct many of the surveillance operations was joint-funded by both the NSA and GCHQ — its British counterpart, and targeted European and African satellite communications in more than 60 countries.
In response to joint inquiries from the Guardian, Der Spiegel and The New York Times, the NSA made the following statement:
“As we have previously said, we do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. The United States collects foreign intelligence just as many other governments do.”
“The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security. As the administration also announced several months ago, the U.S. government is undertaking a review of our activities around the world — looking at, among other issues, how we coordinate with our closest allies and partners.”