Another EU country under heavy NSA surveillance

Report shows more than 60 million Spanish phone calls were tracked in one month as diplomatic fallout spreads

Topics: NSA, Europe, EU, Edward Snowden, Surveillance, Spying, National Security Agency, El Mundo, Angela Merkel, , ,

Following a host of revelations proving that the NSA has been spying on millions of phone calls of EU citizens, on Monday a report in Spanish El Mundo — based on yet more Edward Snowden leaks — revealed that in one month alone, the U.S. spy agency tracked more than 60 million Spanish phone calls.

As the French and German government did on learning of NSA spying on their countries last week, Spain has also summoned the U.S. ambassador to demand answers. Meanwhile, with every new revelation, pressure mounts on the White House for greater transparency about the extent of its surveillance programs. The NSA denied claims Monday that President Obama had been briefed about the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone — a situation that seems a lose-lose for the president: Either he knew about the invasive tracking of an ally world leader, or, as the NSA suggests, he was kept in the dark about a surveillance program with major diplomatic consequences.

The Guardian reported Monday on the latest news regarding Spain:

El Mundo newspaper reported on Monday that it had seen an NSA document that showed the US spy agency had intercepted 60.5m phone calls in Spain between 10 December 2012 and 8 January this year.

An NSA graphic, entitled “Spain – last 30 days”, reportedly shows the daily flow of phone calls within Spain, and that on one day alone – 11 December 2012 – the NSA monitored more than 3.5m phone calls. It appears that the content of the calls was not monitored but the serial and phone numbers of the handsets used, the locations, sim cards and the duration of the calls were. Emails and other social media were also monitored.

The news comes as a parliamentary delegation from the EU prepares to visit Washington to discuss the scale of US spying on its allies. The EU’s civil liberties committee will meet members of Congress to express their concerns over the impact on EU citizens’ fundamental right to privacy.

Last week Spain rejected a move by Germany, which wants the EU’s 28 member states to sign a “no-spy deal” along the lines of an agreement wanted by Berlin and Paris.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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