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NSA reportedly targeted as many as 122 world leaders for surveillance

NSA reportedly targeted as many as 122 world leaders for surveillance

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New leaked NSA documents published in Der Spiegel and The Intercept appear to reveal more details about how that agency targeted a list of world leaders that is larger than previously thought. The documents, leaked to the publications by Edward Snowden, contain a list of 11 world leaders that have been targeted by a system known as Nymrod — however the document implies the actual number targeted was 122. Nymrod is reportedly a system designed to automatically extract citations ("cites") out of a multiplicity of sources, including voice and computer communications. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is listed by name, as are more obvious targets like Syrian president Bashar Asad and former Ukranian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Various leaders apparently have "cites" automatically added to to a "Target Knowledge Database."

The documents described by Der Spiegel also detail a broad effort from the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to target German internet companies like Stelar, Cetel, and IABG. GCHQ reportedly targeted engineers and employees and attempted to identify "access chokepoints" where it would be better able to monitor communications. The NSA also reportedly received permission from a US court to monitor communications in Germany more broadly.

Though none of the documents appear to contain surprising revelations, that's only in comparison to earlier details that have already shown much of the extent of the NSA's spying infrastructure. The US government has faced increasing pressure after the original allegations about spying on Merkel surfaced, and a National Security Council spokeswoman told The Intercept that the US is "not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel," though it's widely assumed that the US did so in the past.