Underscoring the depth of European anger over the allegations, top officials from several European countries said that the reports of spying would figure into the future of transatlantic trade talks that began in June. The efforts would create the world’s largest free-trade zone, and European officials said Sunday that they suspected the target of U.S. intelligence interest was economic information, not military.
“Partners do not spy on each other,” said E.U. Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding at a public event in Luxembourg on Sunday. “We cannot negotiate over a big transatlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators.”
Other European leaders said they felt blindsided by the allegations.
“It is shocking that the United States take measures against their most important, their nearest allies, comparable to measures taken in the past by the KGB, by the secret service of the Soviet Union,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz told reporters in Brussels on Sunday.
“This is not the basis to build mutual trust, this is a contribution to build mutual mistrust,” he said, adding that he felt treated like an “enemy.”
Germany’s Der Spiegel newsmagazine reported this weekend that the NSA had placed listening devices in E.U. diplomatic offices in Washington and New York, had breached an E.U. computer network that provided access to internal e-mails and documents, and had accessed phone lines in E.U. headquarters in Brussels in order to monitor top officials’ phone conversations. The magazine said that it had seen portions of 2010 documents from Snowden, although it did not publish them on its Web site nor did it quote from them directly.
Later Sunday, Britain’s Guardian newspaper published additional information, including portions of an internal NSA presentation that appear to detail several methods by which U.S. intelligence agencies monitored diplomats inside the United States. The Dropmire program apparently monitored communications on an encrypted fax machine used by the E.U. delegation in Washington to communicate with counterparts in Europe.
The Guardian also reported that another document lists 38 embassies and missions that U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring in some way, including the embassies of U.S. allies France, Italy, Japan, India and South Korea, and others including more traditional antagonists and Middle Eastern countries.