Snowden's Paper Trail: Where in the World Is the NSA?

Documenting reports of NSA surveillance worldwide

By Timothy Weisberg
|  Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013  |  Updated 3:49 PM EDT
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Snowden's Paper Trail: Where Is NSA Surveillance?

AP

Edward Snowden's leak revealed that the U.S. has been spying on some its allies.

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What countries might the U.S. have spied on? Plenty, according to reports based on documents Edward Snowden has leaked. The allegations of spying on long-time U.S. allies — including Brazil, Germany and France — has created tension between otherwise friendly nations. Here's some of what has unfolded, and some of the countries that have been embroiled in the diplomatic headaches:

France

The French newspaper Le Monde reported Monday the National Security Agency intercepted extensive electronic data in France. The report, based on leaks from Snowden, says the agency recorded over 70 million pieces of phone data during a 30-day period from Dec. 10, 2012 to Jan. 8, 2013, NBC News reported.

France's Interior Minister Manual Valls described the spying allegations as "shocking," and French officials condemned the surveillance. The revelations came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris to begin talks with European nations over Syria.

Mexico

German weekly Der Spiegel reported the NSA had been eavesdropping on the Mexican government and hacking into Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email. According to the report based on Snowden documents, the NSA has been spying on the Mexican government for years to gain insight into its policy and politics.

In a search for answers, the Mexican government sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. demanding an investigation into the NSA's surveillance of multiple Mexican government officials and citing President Barack Obama's comments last month in Russia that he was committed to looking into such allegations, Reuters reported.

According to Mexico's top diplomat, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade, Obama may be about to make good on that promise. Meade said Obama had promised a probe, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Brazil

Reports that the NSA hacked into the emails of the leaders of Brazil and Mexico prompted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to cancel a scheduled trip to the U.S. last month.

The reports of espionage first surfaced from documents leaked by Snowden, which aides said left President Rousseff "indignant" and "very irritated," NBC News reported.

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her displeasure with President Obama Wednesday after learning U.S. intelligence may have been targeting her cellphone, stating it would be "a serious breach of trust" if true, the Associated Press reported. Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to her complaint Wednesday denying the U.S. government was tapping into her phone. Carney did not specifically mention whether the government had ever monitored or obtained data information from Merkel's phone.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported in September that the NSA has the capabilities to bypass protective measures on iPhones, Android and Blackberry mobile devices providing access to users' data, according to NBC News. Data retrieved from all three major smartphones included the user's contacts, call lists and location information, according to the report.

Thousands of Germans who were enraged by the findings took to the streets of Berlin to protest against NSA surveillance. It remains unclear how Der Spiegel obtained the documents, but many believe they came from Snowden. One of the story's reporters, Laura Poitras, is known to have close contact with him. Research by Der Spiegel is thought to have triggered Chancellor Merkel's response, the Associated Press reported.

Britain

The Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's spy agency, came under fire after reports surfaced in June that the GCHQ was tapping fire-optic cables and sharing personal information with the NSA, according to Reuters and first reported by the Guardian.

The Guardian revealed it obtained documents from Snowden outlining GCHQ's cable-tapping operation and shared intelligence arrangement between Britain and the US. The shared intelligence operation has been in effect for decades, Reuters reported.

China

Snowden said that the NSA has been hacking into and intercepting detailed data from computers in China for the past four years, the New York Times reported in June. In an interview June 12 with the Hong Kong paper the South China Daily Post, Snowden provided documents detailing specific NSA hacking operations into targets in Hong Kong and elsewhere in mainland China.

The documents did not mention any data intercepted from Chinese intelligence or military operations, according to the South China Daily Post. Snowden's disclosure further complicated his legal status and upped U.S. efforts to extradite him from Hong Kong.

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