EU demands explanation after reports of US spying

Washington, June 30 (IANS) A media report claiming that the US National Security Agency spied on EU offices may have tremendous repercussions, the European Union (EU) said Sunday, and asked for immediate explanation from Washington.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that “the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyberattacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington”.

“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations,” CNN quoted European Parliament president Martin Schulz as saying in a statement.

“If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations,” Schulz said.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said if the accusations were true “it was reminiscent of the Cold War”, according to ministry spokesman Anders Mertzlufft.

The minister “has asked for an immediate explanation from the United States”, Mertzlufft said.

Der Spiegel’s information came from secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which the magazine “has in part seen”, according to the report.

“A ‘top secret’ 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU’s diplomatic representation in Washington”, it said.

The magazine said eavesdropping bugs were installed in the EU buildings and the internal computer network was infiltrated, through which the American intelligence can get access to EU meetings, e-mails and internal documents.

CNN said there was no immediate response from Washington to the report in Der Spiegel.

“We have immediately been in contact with the US authorities in Washington D.C. and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports. They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday (Saturday) and will come back to us,” EU spokeswoman Marlene Holzner told CNN.

Snowden, who has acknowledged leaking classified documents, is in Russia and seeking asylum in Ecuador.

Snowden, who worked for the CIA, fled to Hong Kong last month and revealed an NSA-operated classified surveillance project code-named “PRISM”, which can trace worldwide e-mails and phone calls.

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