Italy summons US ambassador over reported NSA spying

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Italy’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador John Phillips on Tuesday after WikiLeaks released top-secret documents showing how Washington had spied on the Italian prime minister.

Foreign Minister Michele Valensise asked for “clarifications” about U.S. surveillance, the Italian ministry said in a statement.

The Italian government also alluded to changes that the Obama administration made in 2014, on the heels of damaging leaks from Edward Snowden, to prohibit personal spying on friendly foreign leaders.

In response, the American ambassador promised to “immediately” address Italy’s concerns, the foreign ministry claimed.

The WikiLeaks documents, which date back to 2010 and 2011, show that the National Security Agency (NSA) secretly monitored communications of top Italian officials.

One 2010 message appears to be based off intercepted discussions between then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The talks were focused on “smoothing out the current rift” between the U.S. and Israel, the message claimed.

“Berlusconi promised to put Italy at Israel's disposal in helping mend the latter's ties with Washington,” the NSA said in the message. 

In a second message, from 2011, the NSA appeared to have snooped on a top Berlusconi adviser’s account of a meeting the Italian prime minister had with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Italy’s financial health.

Italy’s banking system threatened to "'pop' like the cork in a champagne bottle,” Sarkozy argued, according to the NSA’s message.

The message also included details from talks that included then-European Council head Herman Van Rompuy. 

In addition to the documents detailing the U.S.'s spying on Italy, WikiLeaks also released secret messages about the NSA's surveillance of top officials at the United Nations and World Trade Organization.