Israel denies spying on Americans after Snowden leak

Classified document leaked by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden points finger at Israel.

September 12, 2013 23:12
1 minute read.
U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The US shares intelligence data with Israel on the communications of Americans that allow the Jewish state to monitor intercepts between US citizens and suspicious actors in the Middle East.

This according to a classified document leaked by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper first reported on the latest document, from 2009, in a series of leaks from Snowden, who remains in Russia after fleeing the US.

The shared signal intelligence consists of “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,” according to the document.

The process requires the Israeli Sigint National Unit, or ISNU, to “minimize” the amount of personal information kept in its records, which can be held for up to one year if the data is not on US government workers. The enforcement mechanism for this requirement is not detailed in the report.

Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom said unequivocally on Israel Radio on Thursday that Israel does not spy on the US, and has not done so since the Jonathan Pollard affair in the mid-1980s.

“As someone knowledgeable of all the details, there are crystal clear directives against any action in the US or against the US,” he said. “There is a complete ban.”

Shalom characterized any claims that Israel’s intelligence services acted against the US as a “lie and a libel.”

One government official, stressing that Israel was neither confirming nor denying the Guardian story, said only that Israel and the US enjoy “close intelligence cooperation.”

Since the Pollard affair, these orders were issued by then-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, he said, adding that all prime ministers since then – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – have followed them.

“The directive to all the intelligence services is that there is no activity against the US,” the official said.

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