Italy has summoned the US ambassador to Rome following reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped the telephones of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his aides in 2011
The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement that it has summoned the US ambassador, John Phillips, for “clarification” about the reports,
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The move came after the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the scale of the NSA espionage activities on world leaders, citing new classified documents by the online whistleblower WikiLeaks.
Berluscuni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were among those spied on.
WikiLeaks documents released details of a 2011 meeting between Berluscon, Merkel and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during which the former Italian prime minister came under pressure to slash public debt and boost the country’s banking sector.
The meeting was tense and unfriendly, according to a Berlusconi advisor, reportedly the probable target through whom the NSA obtained information.
Furthermore, another WikiLeaks document indicated that the NSA listened in on talks between Berlusconi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During the conversations, the Israeli premier called on Berlusconi to help improve Washington-Tel Aviv ties which were stained due to the regime’s plans for illegal settlements in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
The revelations by the WikiLeaks add to previous information released in 2013 by American intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who showed how the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data.