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EU summit starts off with surveillance scandal

November 11, 2013, 15:27 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

BRUSSELS, October 24. (Itar-Tass) – The fall European Union summit has kicked off in Brussels on Thursday. Initially it was supposed to deal with economic issues, however, in the light of recent events, spying was the top agenda. Heads of states governments started discussing the possible snooping conducted by American intelligence services, specifically, alleged wiretapping of the phones of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President François Hollande.

Wiretapping scandal

The summit began with a series of harsh remarks of European leaders directed at American espionage in Europe.

For instance, one diplomat told Itar-Tass on the sidelines: “The EU has no idea why the U.S. spies on its most trusted partners; it really is a scandal, which can extremely negatively affect international relations.”

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, noted that “American actions lead to emergence of state totalitarianism,” and promised to work on improving safety of personal data of European citizens.

Referring to the allegations of a possible wiretapping of Angela Merkel’s phone by American surveillance services, she said “friends don’t spy on friends,” adding that now the United States need to restore faith.

Earlier this week the French newspaper Le Monde published documents saying that in December 10, 2012 - January 8, 2013 alone the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted tens of millions of calls by French citizens, among them diplomats, outstanding politicians and businessmen. In a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama earlier this week Hollande requested explanations of the disclosed practice.

Amid the scandal Paris expressed skepticism about US National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s statement Washington was collecting data with a view to protecting the country from terrorism and from the proliferation of weapon of mass destruction. Experts were not surprised at the news that the US spied even on its long-standing allies.

“The Americans spy on us, we spy on them. All countries, even if they co-operate in fighting terrorism, keep an eye on each other,” a former French counter-intelligence chief, Bernard Squarcini told the French newspaper Le Figaro.

U.S. neighbors

U.S. relations with its southern neighbors have also been compromised due to leaks regarding NSA activity. 

“The Mexican government strongly condemns the spying practice over communication tools and internet activity of the country’s state agencies and its citizens,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It added that such cases were completely unacceptable, unlawful and contrary to international legislation.

Previosuly,  Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has postponed her official visit to the U.S. which was initially scheduled for October 23, over allegations of American digital espionage.

More to come

This Tuesday, Former Guardian newspaper journalist Glenn Greenwald, who released data from U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive Edward Snowden, told the Inter American Press Association (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa) in Denver, Colorado that he was preparing new revelations of U.S. surveillance activity.