Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices

By Laura Poitras, , Fidelius Schmid and Holger Stark

The National Security Administration headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland: The NSA conducted digital eavesdropping against EU facilities. Zoom
DPA

The National Security Administration headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland: The NSA conducted digital eavesdropping against EU facilities.

America's NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to SPIEGEL information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.

Information obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America's National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A "top secret" 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU's diplomatic representation in Washington.

The document suggests that in addition to installing bugs in the building in downtown Washington, DC, the European Union representation's computer network was also infiltrated. In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers.

The attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA's spying activities. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other surveillance programs have been emerging from what had been compiled by whistleblower Snowden. It has also been revealed that the British intelligence service GCHQ operates a similar program under the name Tempora with which global telephone and Internet connections are monitored.

The documents SPIEGEL has seen indicate that the EU representation to the United Nations was attacked in a manner similar to the way surveillance was conducted against its offices in Washington. An NSA document dated September 2010 explicitly names the Europeans as a "location target".

The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. A little over five years ago, EU security experts noticed several telephone calls that were apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the Justus Lipsius Building, where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council are located. The calls were made to numbers that were very similar to the one used for the remote administration of the building's telephone system.

Security officials managed to track the calls to NATO headquarters in the Brussels suburb of Evere. A precise analysis showed that the attacks on the telecommunications system had originated from a building complex separated from the rest of the NATO headquarters that is used by NSA experts.

A review of the remote maintenance system showed that it had been called and reached several times from precisely that NATO complex. Every EU member state has rooms in the Justus Lipsius Building that can be used by EU ministers. They also have telephone and Internet connections at their disposal.

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1. Time for the EU to get some balls
Frondeskias 06/30/2013
If it is true, then the EU and the member states need to freeze the EU/US Free Trade Agreement discussions, pull in all the US ambassadors and demand explanations, and to give the US notice that their military presence on EU soil is no longer required or welcomed. Enough is enough. If that is their attitude towards friends, then the US can no longer be considered a "friend". And in addition, give Edward Snowden an EU passport and allow him to stay in the EU permanently.
2. optional
tvolm 06/30/2013
and this comes as a surprise to anyone? with cameras at every street light in my city, the USA is really trying to keep take of everyone, everywhere....we lost our Constitution to Corporations and corruption....with no signs of getting it back in the near future....
3. Nsa
judyblue 06/30/2013
As an American citizen, I am disgusted at what my government has done at home and abroad. I hope that an EU member country will offer Edward Snowden asylum as a political refugee. He has done the world a service. He has done America a service, too, if only the U.S. government would realize it. This subversion of civil rights can end only if we face what the U.S. government has done.
4. Paranoia
spon-facebook-561953154 06/30/2013
What on earth is this spying for? Is the reward so much greater than the utter embarrassment of being found out? What is the Obama administration hiding that causes this level of paranoia about even friends? We need leaders who can address pressing problems like climate change and open up new opportunities for productive commerce and relationships. Obama and the extremists in Congress do not reflect the will or character of the citizens of the United States.
5. optional
spon-facebook-10000196454 06/30/2013
Sadly, the EU is not interesting in protecting Mr Snowden, even though his revelations concern everyone.
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