We only spy as much as everyone else, says US after EU bugging claims

The US has said that it only gathers as much foreign intelligence as every other country, after a German newspaper accused the country's National Security Agency of bugging EU offices. 

Based on a document leaked by former NSA IT contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA "appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions", Der Spiegel reported this weekend.

"The document suggests that in addition to installing bugs in [an EU] building in downtown Washington, DC, the European Union representation's computer network was also infiltrated. 

"In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers."

In response to the news, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all the various US intelligence agencies, "said that as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."

It will hold bi-lateral talks with the EU to discus the allegations, it said. 

Der Spiegel's report was met with outrage by European officials. "That will not do!, European justice commissioner Viviane Reding said at a conference yesterday. "Partners do not spy on each other."

Reding suggested that the allegations would affect ongoing trade talks between the EU and US. 

"We cannot negotiate a large transatlantic market when there is the slightest suspicion that our partners spy on the offices of our negotiators. 

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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