Sydney Morning Herald
The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the clerical residence in Rome where then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during this year’s conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff.
The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said the National Security Agency monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, held in the Sistine Chapel.
The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories – “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.
The allegations follow a report on surveillance website Cryptome that said the United States intercepted 46 million telephone calls in Italy between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.
At the time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy, which came to an end when he announced his historic resignation from the Seat of St Peter.
The National Security Agency is denying a report that it eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls when it was considering a successor for Pope Benedict XVI.
Before the Italian magazine, Panorama, published the report, it issued a press release that read “NSA had tapped the pope,” according to Reuters. The eavesdropping was on calls from inside and outside the Vatican and reportedly spanned a few weeks from December 10, 2012 to January 8, 2013.
The calls were reportedly categorized in four groups: leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights. The magazine did not cite any sources in its report.
A cardinal from Argentina told the magazine it is “feared” that the calls were tapped until the election of Pope Francis. But a Vatican spokesman told the magazine he is unaware of the report and has no concerns about it.
Vanee’ Vines, an NSA spokeswoman, denied the report.
“The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican,” she said in an email to The Los Angeles Times. “Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy’s Panorama magazine, are not true.”
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