The latest revelation from Edward Snowden’s leak of the NSA spying program shows that the NSA began spying on the United Nations in June of 2012. German magazine, Der Spiegel, broke the story over the weekend.
Last June, the NSA decrypted the U.N.’s internal video conferencing system. The NSA also targeted the European Union and the “U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The NSA was able to crack hundreds of encryption codes in a mere three weeks, going from 12 to 458 lines of communication.
According to Der Spiegel, “the NSA attacked by its own account, the European branches: each bug as well as by copying the hard drives in New York and infiltrating the computer network in Washington.” Basically the NSA bugged the EU building in Washington and “infiltrated the EU’s computer network.”
The NSA, in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), also targeted over 80 “embassies and consulates worldwide,” in a program called the “Special Collection Service,” without the host countries’ knowledge.
The newly realized revelation has brought the United States heavy criticism from international officials. In regards to international trade, German Social Democratic party leader, Peer Steinbruck said “I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped.” Steinbruck continued and said “We don’t know if the Americans may be sitting under our desks with some technical devices.”
According to international law, it is illegal to spy on the U.N. Farhan Haq, the U.N. spokesman, said “the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law.”
The Vienna Convention of 1961 dictates that “a host country cannot search diplomatic premises or seize its documents or property. It also says the host government must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country.”