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US promises not to spy on UN

UN says it has been assured the US does not and will not spy on it, but doesn't comment on whether it do so in the past.

Last Modified: 30 Oct 2013 22:34
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The US has been accused by some allies of spying on their heads of state [Reuters]

The United Nations has said the United States has pledged not to spy on its communications after a report showed the National Security Agency had gained access to the UN video conferencing system.

"I understand that the US authorities have given assurances that United Nations communications are not and will not be monitored," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters on Wednesday.

He declined to comment when asked if US authorities had previously spied on UN communications.

I understand that the US authorities have given assurances that United Nations communications are not and will not be monitored.

  Martin Nesirky, UN spokesman

The United Nations contacted US authorities after spying accusations were reported by German news magazine Der Spiegel in August, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The United States has faced international criticism over its global surveillance activities following Snowden's disclosure of previously secret documents earlier this year.

US allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have objected to American spying on foreign heads of state.

Merkel's top foreign affairs and intelligence advisers were in Washington on Wednesday to question American officials over US spying in Germany after raising accusations that the US bugged her personal mobile phone.

The White House said last week that the United States "is not monitoring and will not monitor" Merkel's communications, but did not deny that the chancellor may have been spied on in the past.

President Barack Obama recently ordered the NSA to curtail eavesdropping on UN headquarters in New York as part of a revision of US electronic surveillance, an American official familiar with the decision told the Reuters news agency this week.

The details of any US eavesdropping on the United Nations are not publicly known, nor is it clear whether the United States has stopped all monitoring of diplomats assigned to the UN in New York or elsewhere around the world.

"The inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations, has been well established in international law, and therefore all member states are expected to act accordingly," UN Spokesman Nesirky said.

The 1961 Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations protects functions of the United Nations, diplomatic missions and other international organizations.

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