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12 Jul, 2015 12:37

Italian ‘Banksy’ exposes ‘masterminds of spying’ in street art campaign

An Italian artist has declared a ‘brush-and-ink’ war on mass surveillance – he looks for private photos of high-ranking US intelligence officials, reworking them in a stencil technique. He then posts them on walls in capital cities across the globe.

Turin-based conceptual artist, Paolo Cirio, is targeting key figures “in scandals regarding secret intelligence operations, statements, and policies on bulk collection of private communications,” in his anti-spying campaign dubbed “Overexposed.”

In order to ‘overexpose’ the top spies, Cirio was looking for “unauthorized” photos: “from selfies, to family celebrations, to other intimate situations”.

Michael S. Rogers, director of #NSA, from a selfie on Twitter to #POPArt here http://t.co/4HHmd36lhp#HDStencilspic.twitter.com/g8M1j2TRQ2

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) July 10, 2015

“Seeking photographs of governmental officials is a form of creative espionage that was conducted with hacks on social media, social engineering, and simply with search engines,” the artist told RT.

The intimate photos uncovered of NSA and CIA officials would then “appear as posters and murals” in New York City, London, Berlin and Paris.

Today Video feature on European SAT3 for Kulturpalast, watch: http://t.co/u7S6I2fSHB Interview in English on 4 works pic.twitter.com/iAEODsYPIX

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) July 11, 2015

The artwork targeted four National Security Agency (NSA) officials: the current NSA chief Michael Rogers and former heads of the agency Michael Hayden, James Clapper, as well as Keith Alexander, who resigned shortly after the Snowden revelations.

READ MORE: Embattled NSA director, deputy director both to retire

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also came under the spotlight of the democracy-oriented artist. Portraits of John Brennan, the current agency director, its ex-chief David Petraeus and former deputy director Avril Haines have been emblazoned on the streets.

Keith Alexander, from selfies to #Surveillance#Appropriation#POP#Arthttp://t.co/aLe9YsGTAo#HDStencilspic.twitter.com/rdfkjCLTty

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) May 17, 2015

Cirio also dealt with James Comey, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director and Caitlin Hayden, former National Security Council (NSC) spokesman.

The artist says he chose this form of street art for his revenge campaign “because that is where people can see these pictures more often and they share them on social media, so these politicians get even more exposed.

Turning Cyber War Criminals in Digital Pop Art Paintings. John Brennan #CIA Director's Crimes: http://t.co/CzuhgrXye3pic.twitter.com/12KLDPw4Sj

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) June 16, 2015

“People understand what they are and what is their accountability on mass surveillance,” Cirio said, “My personal concern is these people are like physically spying on everyone worldwide.”

Mike Hayden NSA Director from FB to wall in Paris in Belleville http://t.co/YrA7PTiwKc with #HDStencilspic.twitter.com/vQDyiOHKBS

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) May 11, 2015

Keith Alexander from FB selfie to #HDStecils full color in London in Brick Lane. More pics: https://t.co/OmIqrcmrXkpic.twitter.com/9CEWQ0KK27

— Paolo CIRIO (@PaoloCirio) May 11, 2015