Spain demands answers over US spying claims

Spain demands answers over US spying claims

Summary: The NSA's surveillance program has been targeting Spain, according to reports.

TOPICS: Government, Security, EU

The Spanish government is demanding answers from its US counterparts over reports that it was the target of spying efforts by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The reports — emanating from the huge cache of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden — first emerged in German daily Der Spiegel

A Der Spiegel report published on Monday claimed Spain is grouped with the likes of Germany, France, Italy and Japan in the middle category of where the US considers its surveillance efforts should be focused. The likes of China, Russia, Iran and Afghanistan sit at the top of the list, with many European countries such as Finland, Denmark and Croatia at the bottom.

It is not clear exactly how the surveillance of Spain is being carried out, or who the targets are, however.

Der Spiegel says much of the surveillance is taking place at a US military base near Frankfurt, meaning the NSA is both working with, and spying on, Germany. 

The revelations have caused anger within the Spanish government, according to El País. The Spanish daily claims the country's Foreign Ministry has demanded "clarification and information" from the US embassy. 

According to reports, US chargé d'affaires Luis Moreno has vowed to find out more information about the level of US surveillance and report back to the Spanish government.

While the Spanish authorities may not take too kindly to being spied on by foreign states, it is apparently more comfortable with spying on its own citizens. Recently it emerged that the Spanish government is looking to pass a bill that would allow it to install spyware on suspected criminals' phones and computers.

The documents leaked by Edward Snowden detailed the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, which collected vast amounts of data from citizens all over the world. Tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook were also implicated, with reports suggesting they had provided data to the US government. The companies have said they do not provide the government with direct access to users email, however.

Topics: Government, Security, EU

Steve Evans

About Steve Evans

Steve is a freelance journalist based in Madrid, specialising in technology and how it impacts businesses. His previous roles include web editor at Computer Business Review (CBR) and before that staff writer at a magazine that wrote about and sold collectable items.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I am opposed... the way the NSA is gathering information, but since about 1588, has there been anybody in the world that cared what Spain thought about anything?
  • Spain Upset?

    Wasn't a Soros funded voting system used by the U.S. to elect Obama based in Spain? You can probably ask Moochelle or Soros. They would know.
    • Whose voting system?

      More voting systems in America are made by Diebold and designed to elect only Republicans, but they seem to have malfunctioned in 2008 and 2012, and had to be "patched" by the Supremes in 2000 (to make sure they worked correctly in 2004). I am not aware of Soros having anything to do with any of these elections, but the CEO of Diebold probably could fill you in.
  • A distraction for Spain

    Spain is a country that in deep financial trouble and it's government is keen to do anything to take it's citizens focus away from the mess it is in. Similar to Argentina!
  • Americans only

    Spain shouldn't get too bent out of shape over Prism. The intent of Prism is obviously tracking American citizens, and I doubt the NSA even cares about Spain.
    • Obviously?

      I think you are dreaming. The system is way too expensive not to be used to rake in some cold, hard, cash. And the best way to do that is to keep tabs on what foreign companies are doing and then sell the IP to the highest domestic bidder
      • US spying on foreign companies is not new

        I remember about 10-15 years ago European companies were complaining their proprietary information was being stolen by USgov computer programs (think called Lantern then).
  • What isn't said…

    It would seem logical that the "spying" is from the US, checking out specific foreign nationals. Since Europe has many Middle Eastern immigrants, which have been linked to terrorist activity, not to forget US, Canada, and other nations like Russia, it would seem logical that both German, British, French and Russian organizations, along with US agencies are keeping tabs on specific individuals, and also those who they communicate with. As the web expands, it would seem that "countries" are being spied on. I bet this is a cooperative effort. We really haven't been hearing anything from the UK or Germany. It's completely sanctioned and therefore some less informed countries are feeling a bit left out, like Spain.
    • YOU haven't been hearing anything from the UK or Germany

      The more informed people have heard that not only has Germany installed a parliamentary commission of inquiry, but the German attorney general has demanded in-depth information from German services.... Now it being election time, the German government would like to end the discussion ASAP, I just doubt that's realistic...

      Now they are boasting negotiating a "no-spy agreement" with the US, but part of what's in there is already covered by the Vienna Conventions. If the US don't comply with international law, why should they be expected to abide by bilateral agreements?