Members of the European Parliament have condemned the United States for widespread spying on European citizens and leaders.
The nine-member European Union (EU) delegation met with US officials on Wednesday to seek a response to allegations of the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s massive cyber espionage activities against EU citizens and governments, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The European officials met in the White House with senior US government and intelligence officials, including Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.
“Spying has always existed, but friend-on-friend spying is not something that is easily tolerable.” said Britain’s Claude Moraes, head of the EU delegation.
“We want to get to the truth of these allegations,” Moraes noted.
Members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee have been in Washington since Monday, and have also held discussions with officials from the US State Department, Congress and intelligence agencies.
The allegations of widespread spying by the US on its European allies have drawn condemnation from EU leaders.
Merkel has demanded that the United States sign up to a “no-spying” agreement with Germany and France by the end of the year, in line with similar deals with Britain and others. She pronounced German confidence in the United States “shaken.”
Last week, The Guardian reported that the NSA had monitored the telephone conversations of 35 world leaders.
“A US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders… Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked,” according to a classified document provided by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked,” it added.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted in July that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”