Even the Pope has been spied on by the NSA, according to claims in the Italian press.
The Panorama news magazine says US secret services monitored the phone calls of Pope Benedict XVI, as well as those of his successor Francis I. NSA staff listened in on cardinals before the conclave to elect the Pope in March this year, it says.
In a press release ahead of the magazine’s publication today, Panorama said: “It is feared that the great American ear continued to tap prelates’ conversations up to the eve of the conclave on March 12 2013.” It added that Archbishop Bergoglio, as he was called before he became Pope in March, “had been a person of interest to the American secret services since 2005, according to WikiLeaks”. His election came after Benedict XVI resigned on 28 February.
Panorama said the recorded Vatican conversations were among the 46 million phone calls followed by the NSA in Italy from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013.
The phone calls were apparently catalogued by the NSA in four categories – leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.