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Iran Press TV

Iran, Russia and China among top targets of NSA spying operations

Iran Press TV

Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:23AM GMT

Iran, along with Russia, China and the EU are the top targets of American electronic surveillance operations abroad by its largest spying institution National Security Agency (NSA), a report says.

Citing a secret document leaked by whistleblower and former NSA employee Edward Snowden, German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday that the spy agency's top priority list for conduction electronic surveillance also included Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as North Korea.

In the cited classified document, dated April 2013, countries were assigned levels of priority for NSA surveillance, starting at 1, as the highest, and continuing to 5, rated as the lowest.

According to the report, among NSA's top cyber spying targets are major rivals China and Russia, as well what US considers its top foes, like Iran and North Korea, and even its allies in its so-called 'war on terror,' Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The EU, as an entire entity, also ranks high on the NSA's top surveillance priorities, according to the report.

Individual EU nations, however, are of lesser significance to American intelligence, with Germany and France representing mid-level priorities, while states like Finland, Croatia and Denmark are denoted as almost irrelevant in intelligence gathering.

The top-ranking areas marked with priority level '3' are the country's foreign policy and economic issues.

Arms exports, new technology, advanced conventional weapons as well as international trade, on the other hand, were all assigned a lesser priority level of '4'.

This latest published leak appears complementary to the earlier ones, revealing that EU offices in Brussels, Washington and New York were under NSA electronic surveillance and that Germany was the top spying target among all other EU nations.

Specification is also provided on what areas are of most interest to NSA in different countries. Der Spiegel's report focused on which German issues interested the US spy agency the most.

This is while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been highly censured in the country for her lack of response to the leaks, suggesting that Germany was not only spied on extensively, but it essentially cooperated with the American spy agency in its surveillance operations.

Merkel initially denied any knowledge of the NSA spying, but then resorted to justifying US surveillance efforts, saying "intelligence was essential for democracies."

Germans, however, do not appear convinced by Merkel's reasoning, as Snowden's revelations have sparked massive rallies across the nation.

Meanwhile, Snowden was gramted a temporary asylum in Russia on August 1.

The whistleblower first fled the US to Hong Kong and then went to Russia. He was holed up in the transit area of a Moscow airport for more than a month before Russia granted him a one-year asylum.

MFB/MFB



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