Iran to Seriously Pursue US Spying on Leader’s Trip: Spokeswoman

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s foreign ministry roundly condemned cyber espionage tactics practiced by the US, and said it will seriously pursue a case in connection with the reported US surveillance of the Supreme Leader’s 2009 visit to a western province.

Iran to Seriously Pursue US Spying on Leader’s Trip: Spokeswoman

In her weekly press conference on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham affirmed that the Islamic Republic will seriously pursue a report which reveals new aspects of US espionage programs, including the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) spying on Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s visit to the Iranian western province of Kurdestan in 2009.

The US spying operations have targeted leaders and citizens of other nations including some of its close allies like Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

On Sunday, November 3, The New York Times published new details of US surveillance program obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Following is a report published by the American daily according to the NSA document:

“In May 2009, analysts at the agency learned that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was to make a rare trip to Kurdistan Province in the country’s mountainous northwest. The agency immediately organized a high-tech espionage mission, part of a continuing project focused on Ayatollah Khamenei called Operation Dreadnought,” The New York Times reported.

Working closely with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which handles satellite photography, as well as GCHQ, the NSA team studied the Iranian leader’s entourage, its vehicles and its weaponry from satellites, and intercepted air traffic messages as planes and helicopters took off and landed.

They studied Iranian air defense radar stations and recorded the travelers’ rich communications trail, including Iranian satellite coordinates collected by an NSA program called Ghosthunter. The point was not so much to catch the Iranian leader’s words, but to gather the data for blanket eavesdropping on Iran in the event of a crisis.

This 'communications fingerprinting,' as a document called it, is the key to what the NSA does. It allows the agency’s computers to scan the stream of international communications and pluck out messages tied to the supreme leader.

Reports of the US spying have stirred outrage in the countries that have been the target of the spying operations.

Marziyeh Afkham also pointed to the global concerns about US spying programs, and noted, ”We hope these concerns would result in a practical system and the international community would take steps to prevent and stop such measures.”

Germany and Brazil, whose top officials have reportedly been spied on by the US nationa Security Agency, have asked the UN General Assembly to adopt a draft resolution calling for the right to privacy in the digital age.

The draft calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, noting that the illegal collection of personal data "constitutes a highly intrusive act."


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