The U.S. National Security Agency has forcefully denied reports in an Italian magazine that the Vatican has been a target of its spying activities.
“Assertions that the NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy’s Panorama magazine, are not true,” an NSA spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.
Citing a document purportedly furnished by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the magazine Panorama alleges that the NSA eavesdropped on 46 million Italian phone calls between December 2012 and January 2013, among them calls to and from the Vatican. According to Panorama, Vatican calls were flagged for special treatment by the intelligence agency. The magazine alleges that the NSA intercepted calls in and out of the residence where cardinals stayed in advance of the papal conclave at which Pope Francis was elected, and that the Pope’s conversations may have been monitored then.
The Vatican responded to the report through a spokesperson who said, “We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it.”