Reports on US espionage in Spain are “false,” says NSA

Intelligence chief tells Congress documents were misinterpreted

The head of the US National Security Agency (NSA) said on Tuesday that the information that has been published in Spain and France in recent weeks regarding allegations of espionage conducted by the United States in those countries was in fact data collected from their own intelligence agencies.

Speaking at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, General Keith Alexander emphatically denied that his agency had collected the phone records of private citizens in Europe.

“Those screenshots that show or at least lead people to believe that we, the NSA, or the US, collected that information is false — and it is false that it was collected on European citizens. It was neither,” Alexander told Congress.

“This is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.”

He added that neither the journalists nor “the person who stole that classified information” knew what they were looking at.

White House spokesman Jim Carney neither confirmed nor denied information published in The Wall Street Journal that Spain and France aided the United States in NSA spying. Instead Carney addressed the issue in general terms, but also said that the European press reports — which appeared in EL PAÍS, among other outlets — contained “distortions and mistakes” about the documents that were leaked by former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Last week, EL PAÍS revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had tracked Spanish citizens’ telephone calls, text messages and emails, while daily El Mundo on Monday published a story with information from journalist Glenn Greenwald stating that the NSA spied on 60 million calls in Spain between December 2012 and early January of this year.

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