LONDON European officials reacted angrily Sunday to a report that the United States had been spying on its European Union allies, saying the claims could threaten talks with Washington on an important trade agreement.
The latest allegations surfaced in the online edition of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which reported that U.S. agencies had monitored the offices of the EU in New York and Washington. Der Spiegel said information about the spying appeared in documents obtained by Edward Snowden, the former American intelligence contractor.
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said in a statement that he was deeply worried and shocked.
If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations, he said, adding that he wanted a full clarification and would demand further information speedily from the U.S. authorities.
Viviane Reding, the EUs commissioner for justice, responding to a question at a meeting in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, said that partners do not spy on each other.
We cannot negotiate over a big trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators, she said. The American authorities should eliminate any such doubt swiftly.
According to Der Spiegel, the National Security Agency installed listening devices in EU diplomatic offices in downtown Washington and tapped into its computer network.
In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers, the article said. It said that the blocs representative offices at the United Nations in New York were similarly targeted.
The newsmagazine also suggested that eavesdropping took place in Brussels, in the Justus Lipsius Building, where representatives of EU members have their offices.
Snowden, who last month revealed details about American surveillance programs, fled to Hong Kong shortly before his revelations became public, then moved on to Moscow.
His fate remained murky on Sunday. He has been in a transit area at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow since June 23 and is believed to be trying to negotiate travel arrangements to Ecuador, Venezuela or elsewhere.
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