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UN ‘aware of the reports’ of NSA hacking into diplomatic communications

Published time: August 27, 2013 00:07
UN headquarters  in New York (Reuters / Chip East)

UN headquarters in New York (Reuters / Chip East)

The UN announced it will “keep in touch” with the US government over the latest reports on the NSA hacking into the international body’s communications system, decrypting almost 500 internal teleconference calls.

“We’re aware of the reports and we intend to be in touch with the relevant authorities on this,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told the press on Monday.

According to the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Washington gained access to the internal UN video conferencing system last year.

Haq stated that international law should protect the diplomatic core, citing the 1961 Vienna Convention that in theory protects international organizations from espionage.

“Therefore member states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions,”
Haq said.  

The UN however has yet to issue an official response.

Meanwhile, Jens Stomber, spokesman for the German Pirate Party, told RT that a logical move for the UN could be to introduce a “resolution about surveillance” that would protect “diplomats or ambassadors of other nations.”  Moreover, Stomber believes the UN could also pass a resolution “protecting international whistleblowers.”

“If people blow their whistle on an international scale, the UN should take care of those people, like Edward Snowden and protect them,”
he told RT.

The recent scandal emerged when Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that the US deployed a bugging program in some 80 diplomatic missions worldwide called the “Special Collection Service.”

Der Spiegel also wrote that the summer of 2012, the NSA hacked into the UN video conferencing system by cracking its coding system.

“The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),” Der Spiegel quoted one document as saying.  The publication also says that within three weeks of hacking, the number of decoded communications reached almost 500.

“The surveillance is intensive and well organized and has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists,” wrote Der Spiegel.

The leaked NSA files shows that the agency spied on an EU delegation in New York in autumn 2012.

The internal NSA documents, leaked by Snowden also suggests that the International Atomic Energy Agency, was targeted by the NSA, according to the report.

National Security Agency(NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland (AFP Photo)

Comments (6)


Philipp 28.08.2013 12:39

Jeremy because actually UN has been under European and US countrol for many years and now it looks like it becomes independent.It's very easy just to offer money or use threat to force some UN members to do something.A lot of things like this have happened.


Jeremy R 28.08.2013 01:53

Why doesn't the UN just move to another location? Somewhere more inviting...

China, Russia, Japan, Australia, Germany, UK, Antarctica - those all sound like fantastic places to set up a new UN HQ


RTM 27.08.2013 15:05

Andrew French 27.08.2013 04:00

I'm curious how the "protection&quo t; would work for international whistle blowers. For instance, in the case of Mr. Snowden, how would the protection have worked for him if it were in place? I think he still would have needed to leave the USA...


I would guess that such protection would invalidate extradition treaties when it came to a "protected" ; whistle blower. Of course, the UN really has no means to enforce it anyway, so countries would just decide in each case whether to abide by the UN or the extradition treaty. It's a good thought, though.

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