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NSA spied on UN Secretary General, Merkel

Winter ChaseFebruary 23, 2016

Wikileaks has released new documents alleging the NSA intercepted communications between Ban-Ki Moon and Merkel. The secret releases also include allegations of spying on Israeli, Italian and French leaders.

Angela Merkel mit BlackBerry Z10 Smartphone
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

The whistleblower website Wikileaks on Tuesday dumped a new trove of classified documents revealing that the US National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted communications between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The documents also cover intercepts of conversations between EU leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the UN refugee agency and Japan on a range of issues -- from climate change and banking to sensitive trade issues.

Among the intercepted communications were meetings in 2008 between UN Secretary General and Merkel discussing climate change talks and views on President Barack Obama.

The revelations are not the first highlighting the extent of US spying on the UN and world leaders, as well as the bulk collection of intelligence. Previously released documents created a diplomatic row between the US and its allies.

The documents reveal that the US listened in on UN climate talks in order to protect its oil interests, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said.

"Today we showed that UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon's private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies," Assange said in a statement accompanying the document release.

He added: "The US government has signed agreements with the UN that it will not engage in such conduct against the UN--let alone its Secretary General. It will be interesting to see the UN's reaction, because if the Secretary General can be targeted without consequence, then everyone from world leader to street sweeper is at risk."

Netanyahu asked Berlusconi for help dealing with US

The new data dump also includes allegations that Netanyahu reached out to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2010 to help mend fences with the United States.

According to the documents, Netanyahu was concerned by the lack of direct contact with Obama in response to Israel's illegal settlement building on Palestinian lands.

The Israeli leader was allegedly concerned the Palestinians would use to settlement issue to block peace talks or "advance unrealistic claims."

Another intercept detailed a conversation between Berlusconi and former French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in which the French leader warned his Italian counterpart that the Italian banking system was about to "pop like a cork."

The NSA also spied on Japanese and EU trade ministers discussing sensitive World Trade Organization issues, as well as the UN refugee agency, Wikileaks documents revealed.