New leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal an unexpected list of surveillance targets for the agency, including European economic regulators with no obvious connection to US national security. European Commission vice president Joaquín Almunia was one such target; he was surveilled during his tenure overseeing the European Union's economic, financial, and monetary affairs. After Alumnia took authority over the commission's antitrust office, he would go on to lead antitrust cases against Microsoft, Intel, and Google.
Speaking to The New York Times, the NSA defended its economic targets, saying, "The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy makers with the information they need." The list of targets also includes the international children's charity Unicef (a project of the previously targeted United Nations), a French oil company, and the prime minister and defense minister of Israel.