Pakistan seeks explanation from US over surveillance

Islamabad, June 14 (IANS) Pakistan has sought explanation from the US over reports that its citizens have been a major target of intelligence surveillance and demanded its nationals’ privacy be respected.

The apprehensions were conveyed to US Chargé d’Affaires Richard Hoagland by Pakistan Foreign Office officials at a recent meeting.

“We have taken up the matter with the US to ascertain veracity of the news and obtain facts of the matter. We are awaiting their response,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at the weekly briefing here Thursday.

A Guardian report said the information obtained from the US National Security Agency’s data-mapping tool had shown Pakistan was second among the countries most subjected to US intelligence surveillance with almost 13.5 billion reports in March alone.

`Boundless Informant’ catalogues the volume of intelligence being collected from different countries. Most of the intelligence has been gathered from computer and telephone networks.

The tool, however, did not detail what intelligence had been collected by the NSA.

The country subject to most intense watch was Iran where 14 billion reports were obtained during the same period.

The disclosure was also likely to complicate relations with the US as the new government tries to build a working relationship with Washington, the report added.

Pakistani intelligence agencies, a source said, were particularly upset over the revelation about the intensity of the surveillance.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Pakistan this month, he will be confronted with tough questions over drone attacks and the paranoid snooping programme.

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