European officials are furious today after a German newspaper reported on a story from whistleblower-fugitive Edward Snowden that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on European Union offices.
The report in German weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, will likely put a tremendous strain on U.S. relations with the E.U. Der Spiegel said it had “in part seen” confidential documents describing how the NSA bugged E.U. offices in Washington and New York and conducted an “electronic eavesdropping operation” on an EU building in Brussels, Belgium.
"I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations," said European Parliament President Martin Schulz in a statement. "If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on E.U.-U.S. relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations."
Schulz demanded a full and immediate explanation from Washington.
Der Spiegel said its report is based on confidential documents leaked by Snowden. One document reportedly described the NSA installing microphones in a building housing the E.U.’s diplomatic mission in Washington. The document, dated September 2010, reportedly show a computer network infiltrated to provide access to email and other internal documents.
German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said: "If the media reports are accurate, then this recalls the methods used by enemies during the Cold War.
"It is beyond comprehension that our friends in the United States see Europeans as enemies."
CNN reported White House deputy national advisor for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, said he had not seen the report and "would not comment on unauthorized disclosures of intelligence programs. The intelligence community would be the most appropriate to do that."
Rhodes made note that "those are some of our closest intelligence partners, so it's worth noting that the Europeans work very closely with us. We have very close intelligence relationships with them."