Spain on Monday joined a growing group of US allies outraged by NSA’s snooping of its citizens according to reports based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
El Mundo, the Spanish daily, published a classified document purportedly showing that the US security services tracked 60.5 million Spanish telephone calls in a single month.
No sooner the report was out, the Spanish government summoned US ambassador James Costos in Madrid to lodge its protest, calling the snooping “inappropriate and unacceptable”.
The NSA didn’t listen in on those calls, the reports said — and as the agency has long claimed, only recorded the numbers and locations as has been the pattern.
Recent leaks have also shown the NSA snooping on 35 world leaders, among them close allies, which President Barack Obama, the White House has said, did not know.
Once he found out, through an ongoing internal review this summer, he had those programmes stopped, said a report in conservative leaning Wall Street Journal.
“Our review of the way we gather intelligence is rigorous and ongoing,” said President Obama’s national security advisers in a tweet Monday morning.
“We must seek proper balance between security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share,” she added.
But allies seem not convinced of US’s ability to strike that balance. Brazil was the first to react, calling off a presidential visit in response to reports of NSA spying on its citizens.
Germany was next, with later reports in local media charging the NSA with tapping chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. She got an assurance out of Obama it won’t happen again.
Then came reports the NSA hadn’t spared the French either. Obama called Francois Hollande to assure him the US intelligence gathering was being reviewed.
It is not clear yet if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the 35 world leaders whose phones were tapped NSA — the PMO has said he doesn’t carry a cellphone.
But earlier reports based on Snowden’s leaks have shown that Indian diplomatic missions in the US were among foreign missions routinely spied upon by the NSA.
(With agency inputs)