2013 10 29 NYT Spain Summons American Ambassador on New Reports of N.S.A. Spying – NYTimes.com
Spain Summons American Ambassador on New Reports of N.S.A. Spying
MADRID — The Spanish government on Monday summoned the American ambassador to address allegations that the National Security Agency had recently collected data on 60 million telephone calls in Spain.
Adding to a spying scandal that includes Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico, the government’s move came after two Spanish newspapers reported Monday that the agency had gathered data on phone numbers and locations but had not monitored the contents of the calls.
After his meeting with Spanish officials, the ambassador, James Costos, issued a statement in which he acknowledged Spain’s worries about the surveillance programs and said, “Ultimately, the United States needs to balance the important role that these programs play in protecting our national security and protecting the security of our allies with legitimate privacy concerns.”
Mr. Costos did not discuss the details of the spying claims, nor did the Spanish government after the meeting, which lasted less than an hour. Instead, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, a Spanish secretary of state, referred in a separate statement to the need to maintain “a necessary balance” between security and privacy concerns. Spain, he added, is calling on Washington to clarify “the reach of measures that, if proven to be true, are improper and unacceptable between partners and friendly countries.”
The two Spanish newspapers, El Mundo and El País, based their reporting on documents viewed by Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist, that were provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who has been at the center of the spying scandal.
The newspapers said the data covered information relating to about 60 million Spanish phone calls and was collected between December and early January.
The spying scandal, which has strained relations between Washington and some of its most important allies, has recently focused on whether the N.S.A. targeted the cellphone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The Spanish government has so far declined to discuss whether it has evidence that Washington spied on Spanish government officials.
“Spying activities aren’t proper among partner countries and allies,” Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, said at a news conference last week in Brussels, where he was attending a meeting of European Union leaders.
Last year, Spain agreed to extend an American lease of military facilities on its territory, including the Rota naval base, where the United States is planning to station Aegis antimissile vessels as part of the European defense shield of NATO.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 28, 2013
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article and photo misspelled the surname of the American ambassador. He is James Costos, not James Costo.