Israel Prime Minister Targeted by U.S. Spying, New Edward Snowden Leak Says

Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak Snooped on by NSA

By Reuters

Published December 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The office of an Israeli prime minister was targeted by British and U.S. spies along with a senior European Union official and German government buildings, according to the latest leaked documents from Edward Snowden published on Friday.

Other targets from 2008 to 2011 included foreign energy companies and aid organisations, said Britain’s Guardian and the New York Times, citing secret documents from former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Snowden.

Snowden has shone a light on widespread surveillance by the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ, the alleged extent of which has upset many U.S. allies and fuelled a heated debate about the balance between privacy and security. He is living in Russia under temporary asylum

The newspapers reported that in January 2009 GCHQ and the NSA had targeted an email address listed as belonging to the Israeli prime minister, who at the time was Ehud Olmert. Spies also monitored email traffic between then-Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren, the newspapers said.

Other targets were said to include the United Nations Children’s Fund, French aid organisation Médecins du Monde, French oil and gas firm Total, and French defence company Thales Group.

Joaquin Almunia, the European competition commissioner who oversees anti-monopoly investigations and has been involved in a long-running case involving Google, was another to appear in GCHQ documents, although it was not clear who ordered the surveillance.

An NSA spokeswoman said the agency did not use espionage to help U.S. businesses.

“We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” the spokeswoman said.

“The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.”

However, the European Commission said if it was true one of its senior officials had been targeted it would be “unacceptable”.

“This piece of news follows a series of other revelations which, as we clearly stated in the past, if proven true, are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation,” a spokesman said.

“This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states.”

Germany has been especially angered after it was reported that the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

The Guardian said the disclosure that GCHQ had targeted German government buildings in Berlin was embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron since he had signed an EU statement condemning the NSA’s spying on Merkel.

GCHQ said it was aware of the reports but did not comment on intelligence matters. A spokesman said: “Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.