MOSCOW, September 1 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned one of the most senior US diplomats in Turkey in order to explain reports on Washington’s spying activities in the country, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, said Monday.
"For reasons that the United States' name was mentioned, and such claims were made ... the charge d'affaires [the head of the diplomatic mission] has been called to the foreign ministry and information has been received from him,” Arinc told the press.
On Sunday, Der Spiegel released an article, based on classified US documents, leaked by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, disclosing US National Security Agency (NSA) activities in Turkey.
According to the newspaper, in 2006 the NSA launched an operation aimed at hacking the computers of Turkey’s top officials. Turkish diplomats, operating in Washington and in the UN headquarters in New York were also tapped. Some of the intelligence gathered was shared with the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as part of the so-called “Five Eyes” program.
Turkish Energy Minister Mehmet Simsek has also been subject to surveillance by the UK's GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) intelligence agency, despite the fact that he had dual Turkish-British citizenship, Der Spiegel reported with reference to the secret documents released by Snowden.
However, according to the leaked documents, Turkey was not only the subject of extensive Western surveillance activities; it also enjoyed plenty of intelligence sharing. The papers, examined by Der Spiegel, point to large amounts of eavesdropping data concerning the separatist Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) leaders handed over to Ankara by the NSA.
“Geolocations data and voice recordings from Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) communications which were passed to Turkey by the NSA yielded actionable intelligence that led to the demise or capture of dozens of PKK members in the past year,” one of the documents reads.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, fled the United States in 2013, after leaking data concerning the NSA surveillance programs around the world. Washington accused Snowden of theft and the unauthorized communication of classified data. During 2013, Snowden lived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport international zone for over a month, and then received one-year's temporary asylum in Russia, which was prolonged for another 3 years this August.