Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contract employee, meeting in Moscow with activists., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
UN vows to be in touch with U.S. over spying report
• The UN said it would be in touch with the U.S. over reports that the world body was spied on by the NSA.
• NSA bugged the video conferencing system at the UN headquarters in NY, a German weekly reported.
• NSA also ran a monitoring program covering more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide, it said.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said Monday that it would be in touch with the United States over reports that the world body was spied on by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
"The United Nations was aware of the reports and would be in touch with the relevant authorities," said Farhan Haq, the associate spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a regular news briefing.
The NSA bugged the video conferencing system at the UN headquarters in New York and cracked its encryption in the summer of 2012, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday, citing secret documents disclosed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
"The inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law. Therefore, member states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions," Haq said.
The 1961 Vienna Convention defines a framework for diplomatic issues and status among nations and international organizations. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
According to the documents analyzed by the German weekly, the NSA also ran a monitoring program covering more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide.
Snowden's Revelations about the PRISM spying program and other surveillance programs that obtain personal information by hacking phone calls and emails have embarrassed Washington and triggered outrage around the world.
Obama meets lawmakers over spying programs
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday to discuss leaked spying programs, hours after Russia granted whistle-blower Edward Snowden one-year asylum.
According to a readout released by the White House, the meeting was "constructive" and Obama vowed to continue to work closely with Congress on these matters in the weeks and months ahead.
The White House said the president requested to hear from some of the programs' most prominent critics and defenders.
The lawmakers invited to the Oval Office included Senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, chairman and a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee respectively.
The meeting was also joined by the programs' most vocal critics -- Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, sponsors of a bill to strengthen oversight and transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which issues orders for surveillance.
The scheduled meeting came after Russia granted one-year asylum earlier in the day to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed internet and telephone surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.
Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed outrage over Moscow's decision. In a statement, Senator John McCain called Russia's actions a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States, which was "a slap in the face of all Americans."
House Speaker John Boehner urged Obama to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue and resolve it in a way that is satisfactory to the American people.
Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russia's asylum decision could hurt U.S.-Russia relations.
Thousands of Germans protest against U.S. spying
BERLIN, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people braved the heatwave on Saturday and took to the streets across Germany to protest against the U.S. internet surveillance in the country.
The protestors also voiced support for fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden who revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring phone calls and Internet data connections in Germany as well as spying on the headquarters of the European Union.
Braving temperatures as high as 36 degree-celsius in some regions, protesters in more than 30 cities took part in the demonstrations, which was organized by an organization called "Stop Watching Us".
The largest rally took place in Frankfurt with about 1,000 protestors, according to local media.
Recent reports of widespread U.S. spying have sparked outcry in privacy-sensitive Germany. Less than half of the German people see the United States as a trustworthy partner in the aftermath of the reports, a poll published earlier this month has showed.
Facing increasing political pressure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated that "German laws must be abided by on German territory." She also said Germany is not a surveillance state.
The German opposition parties have been criticizing Chancellor Merkel's coalition government over its handling of the United States' massive surveillance program in Germany, as the public outrage shows no signs of abating with the looming general elections in September.
However, the spying scandal has not seemed to affect Merkel's popular status in Germany on the eve of general elections. A recent opinion poll by public broadcaster ZDF showed that 62 percent of respondents still support Merkel as the preferred chancellor.