The Guardian reports: The latest disclosures from the Snowden files provoked exasperation at the European commission, with officials saying they intended to press the British and American governments for answers about the targeting of one its most senior officials.
Reacting shortly after an EU summit had finished in Brussels, the commission said disclosures about the targeting of Joaquín Almunia, a vice-president with responsibility for competition policy, was “not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states”.
A spokesman added: “This piece of news follows a series of other revelations which, as we clearly stated in the past, if proven true, are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation.”
In Britain, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the parliamentary committee that provides oversight of GCHQ, said he was “disturbed by these allegations.” He added he could be “examining them in due course as part of the intelligence and security committee’s wider investigation into the interception of communications.”
A prominent German MP, Hans-Christian Ströbele, who met Edward Snowden in Moscow in October, told the Guardian it was becoming “increasingly clear that Britain has been more than the US’ stooge in this surveillance scandal”. He suggested the snooping by GCHQ on German government buildings and embassies was unacceptable.
“Great Britain is not just any country. It is a country that we are supposed to be in a union with. It’s incredible for one member of the European Union to spy on another – it’s like members of a family spying on each other. The German government will need to raise this with the British government directly and ask tough questions about the victims, and that is the right word, of this affair.”
The Liberal Democrats have been inching towards calling for an independent commission to investigate the activities of Britain’s spy agencies and the party president, Tim Farron, said that “spying on friendly governments like this is not only bad politics, it is bad foreign policy”.
“These nations are our allies and we should work together on issues from terrorism to Iran and climate change,” he said. “But we seem to be spying on them in conjunction with the NSA in what seems like an industrial basis.” [Continue reading…]