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EU orders global sweep of diplomatic missions after US spying reports

EU orders global sweep of diplomatic missions after US spying reports
The European Union has ordered a worldwide security sweep of all its premises following reports US intelligence has bugged its offices in Washington, Brussels and the United Nations.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EU's Executive Commission, "has instructed the competent commission services to proceed to a comprehensive ad hoc security sweep and check" in light of the most recent spying allegations leveled at the US, spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told reporters.

The sweep follows a report by German weekly Der Spiegel, based on revelations by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the National Security Agency [NSA] bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks.

Ahrenkilde said allegations of US spying were “disturbing” and demanded “full clarification.”

"Clarity and transparency is what we expect from our partners and allies and this is what we expect from the United States," she continued.  

Ahrenkilde added that commission premises are “regularly swept and communications networks are checked against spying and eavesdropping.”

However, a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief who oversees EU offices abroad, said the EU diplomatic missions in Washington, DC, and New York had moved premises since 2010 – the year the reported spying took place – and had subsequently changed over to “completely new security systems,” European Voice reports.

The spokesman added the spying allegations were “news to us.”

On Monday, US Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy was called in for consultations at the  Foreign Ministry after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be “unacceptable Cold War-style behavior” if the reports proved true.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Merkel, said the establishment of mutual trust was necessary before consensus could be reached on the EU-US Free Trade Agreement, potentially the ‘biggest bilateral trade deal in history.’

Following reports the French embassy in Washington and France's office at the UN in New York were being bugged, President Hollande also warned the alleged spying could sink the historic trade pact.

"There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees for France, but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States," Hollande told reporters.

"We cannot accept this kind of behavior between partners and allies,"
he continued. "We ask that this stop immediately."

According to one of the documents obtained by the Guardian, dated September 2010, the United States reportedly spied on 38 diplomatic missions which it referred to as “targets.”

The surveillance program was intended to garner inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between both EU member states and other countries.

France, Italy and Greece were named among the EU countries pinpointed, while India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey were among other US allies mentioned in the document.

Washington has thus far been reluctant to address the latest accusations amidst the ongoing trade talks. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Europe had raised the issue with him, but no comment would be forthcoming until he knew the whole truth.

Kerry, in an attempt to downplay the allegations, added that, "every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security."