US, UK spied on Turkey, report says citing Snowden
Beginning in 2006, the NSA began a broad surveillance operation aimed at infiltrating the computers of Turkey’s top political leaders, according documents provided by Edward Snowden. AP PhotoThe United States and the United Kingdom have spied on Turkey, German weekly magazine Der Spiegel has reported, citing documents provided by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Documents, seen by the magazine and the online magazine Intercept, show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying and the political leadership in Washington has tasked the National Security Agency (NSA) with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas.
A document places Turkey at the level of Venezuela and even ahead of Cuba in terms of U.S. interest in intelligence collection, the report said. Information about the “leadership intention” of the Turkish government is given the second-highest priority rating, and information about the military and its infrastructure, foreign policy goals, and energy security are given the third-highest priority rating, it added. Beginning in 2006, the NSA began a broad surveillance operation aimed at infiltrating the computers of Turkey’s top political leaders.
Turkey summoned Germany’s ambassador in Ankara last month after media reports that Berlin had identified Ankara as a top target of surveillance in a government document from 2009 and had been spying on Turkey for years.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry described the report as “absolutely unacceptable,” if true.
The Snowden documents also show that Turkey is the NSA’s oldest partner in Asia. U.S. secret agents have provided support to the Turkish government in its battle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for years. One top-secret NSA document from January 2007 said the agency provided Turkey with geographic data and recordings of telephone conversations of PKK members that appear to have helped Turkish agents capture or kill the targets. The NSA has also infiltrated the Internet communications of PKK leaders living in Europe.
The deep working relationship has continued under Barack Obama’s presidency, the weekly reported. In January 2012, U.S. officials proposed supporting Turkey in their fight against the PKK with diverse measures, including access to a state-of-the-art speech recognition system that enabled real-time analysis of intercepted conversations.
Meanwhile, one classified British document states that in October 2008, he Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence and security agency, tasked agents with improving access to the Turkish Energy Ministry as well as enterprises including the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ), the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and the energy company Çalık Enerji. The assignment also included a list of the names of 13 targets, including then Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Güler.
Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek is also explicitly named as a GCHQ “target,” despite the fact that he is a dual Turkish-British citizen.