NEWLY PUBLISHED CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS show the National Security Agency spied on a 2010 conversation between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two discussed ways to improve Israel’s relationship with the United States.
The Italian-Israeli conversation is included in one of five NSA documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks, which has not disclosed the source of the leaks. Two of the documents focus on climate change, one relates to trade talks, and two report on Italian government communications.
The intelligence reports date from 2007 through 2011.
According to “Italian diplomatic reporting of 13 March,” Israel had reached out to Italy “for help in smoothing out the current rift in its relations with the United States.”
The rift concerned Israel’s decision to build 1,600 new houses in “contested East Jerusalem.” “Berlusconi promised to put Italy at Israel’s disposal in helping mend the latter’s ties with Washington,” the report said.
The report was based on the targeting of three phone numbers belonging to Italian officials. The targeted officials were listed as Berlusconi’s diplomatic adviser Marco Carnelos; national security adviser Bruno Archi; and the Italian Ambassador to NATO, Stefano Stefanini.
The report is stamped “REL TO USA, FVEY,” indicating that the NSA could release it to other U.S. agencies and to the Five Eyes intelligence allies, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The newly published reports provide additional details on U.S. efforts to spy on countries taking part in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which failed to reach an agreement. In 2014, documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collected information about various countries’ positions.
One NSA report published by WikiLeaks contains details of a confidential discussion about climate change negotiations between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lead-up to the conference. The NSA report is stamped “U.N. diplomatic,” “German leadership,” and Top Secret Gamma, the “Gamma” indicating an extremely sensitive spying operation.
The U.N. spying was directed by “S2C52,” a team of analysts based in the NSA’s Maryland headquarters that specializes in operations against the United Nations.
Another top-secret report reveals intercepted climate change discussions between German and Japanese officials. The German official, Bernd Pfaffenbach, was reported saying that the “crucial issue” in an upcoming G-8 meeting was whether the United States was prepared to “accept going beyond” its previous position on climate change.
The leaked documents show the NSA targeted 13 phone numbers belonging to government officials and government offices in five countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Earlier leaks of NSA intelligence reports by WikiLeaks revealed active targeting of phones in Germany as well. The Swiss phone tapping was used to intercept the communications of United Nations officials and a World Trade Organization representative in Geneva. The Belgian phone tapping included a NATO official in Brussels.
All but one of the 13 target phone numbers listed in the documents are still in use today.
The interception methods stated on the latest leaked intelligence reports are “Unconventional” and “SCS,” which stands for Special Collection Service. SCS involves joint NSA and CIA eavesdropping operations run covertly inside U.S. and allied foreign embassy buildings in foreign capitals; it is unclear what “Unconventional” refers to.
The NSA did not respond to request for comment.