BJP among six foreign parties authorised for NSA surveillance

Updated - November 16, 2021 10:51 pm IST

Published - July 01, 2014 08:26 am IST - Washington:

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was included in a top-secret list of six non-U.S. political parties worldwide that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) received official permission to covertly spy upon, according to the latest trove of data released to the media by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The BJP, Indian government and a host of other foreign entities were included within the surveillance list of the >NSA authorised by the FISA Court in 2010 and per U.S. law this certification was required annually for the Agency to continue such surveillance every successive year.

It s not clear whether the FISA Court similarly authorised the NSA to spy on the BJP and Indian government in the years following 2010.

According to documents that Mr. Snowden published via the Washington Post on Monday, the U.S.’ shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court gave the NSA “broad leeway” in conducting surveillance upon not only these six political parties but also a list of 193 foreign governments – including India – and only four countries were off-limits under this programme.

The Post reported that Washington has long adhered to broad “no-spying arrangements” with only the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a group known collectively with the U.S. the “Five Eyes.”

Yet the classified 2010 legal certification given to the NSA by the FISA court suggests the Agency received “a far more elastic authority than previously known,” one that reportedly allowed it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about those targets too.

NSA officials reportedly declined to comment on the certification or acknowledge its authenticity, but "stressed the constraints placed on foreign intelligence-gathering," including requirements set for the Agency by the President, the Director of National Intelligence and various departments through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, the Post said.

The documents further revealed that the FISA court authorised the NSA to snoop on the Internet and telephone communications of the World Bank, United Nations, OPEC, and the European Union.

The other five political parties that the NSA had authority to spy upon were Amal of Lebanon, with links to Hezbollah; the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator of Venezuela, with links to FARC; the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; the Egyptian National Salvation Front; and the Pakistan People’s Party.

In a comment to the Post, Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “These documents show both the potential scope of the government’s surveillance activities and the exceedingly modest role the court plays in overseeing them.”

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