A US official tells Reuters that President Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to curtail all eavesdropping on the United Nations headquarters, as part of an ongoing review of US surveillance procedures. The news comes just days after European leaders had moved to take action against US surveillance, with a resolution against the spying expected to come to a floor vote in the United Nations later this year.
"The United States is not conducting electronic surveillance targeting the United Nations headquarters in New York," a senior Obama administration official told Reuters. However, a separate official reported recent briefings in which White House aides specifically asked the NSA to cease certain monitoring programs covering UN targets, suggesting some surveillance has taken place in the recent past. A previous Snowden leak confirmed this, detailing NSA efforts to hack into the United Nations' internal teleconferencing system.
The reported order does not affect the personal surveillance of European leaders, like the alleged surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal phone, nor does the order go far enough to say the NSA would never conduct surveillance on the grounds of the UN building. Reached by Reuters, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to confirm the story, but said the administration had already made some decisions for reforms. However, Hayden said, "the Administration's review is ongoing so I'm not in a position to discuss the details or the outcomes."