US spying on allies and enemies

US agencies have spied on EU allies including France, Italy, and Greece, according to new documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and published in the Guardian newspaper on Monday.

The report comes after the European Union demanded an explanation from the United States over similar allegations reported by German magazine Der Spiegel over the weekend.

A September 2010 document from the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) listed 38 embassies and missions, described as “targets”, the Guardian reported.

Those spied on included the EU missions in New York and Washington, and the French, Italian and Greek embassies. US allies including South Korea, Japan, Mexico and India were also spied on alongside traditional foes and some Middle Eastern countries.

Snowden, who fled the United States and has applied for asylum in Ecuador, remains at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The United States has cancelled his passport and is demanding his extradition to face espionage charges for leaking details of NSA surveillance programmes.

The revelations are set to worsen tensions between the United States and EU countries, who have already reacted angrily to previous leaks suggesting that the NSA had targeted them.

Germany has been particularly troubled after the leaked documents showed that it was targeted far more than other EU countries and was classed by the United States as a “third-class” partner, in the same spying category as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“It’s beyond belief that our friends in the US see Europeans as the enemy,” said German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

If the reports were true, Berlin was being treated as a “Cold War enemy”, she was quoted as saying by the German tabloid Bild.

Italy also joined calls for an explanation. “It is a thorny issue which calls for satisfactory answers,” Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said in Zagreb, according to the ANSA news agency.

The spying on the EU was apparently aimed at gathering information on disputes between member states.

One bugging method codenamed Dropmire was apparently implanted onto an encrypted fax machine at the EU mission in Washington used to send back dispatches to foreign ministries in Europe, according to the Guardian.

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US spying on allies and enemies