Washington Post: US eavesdropped on UN’s Guterres

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, March 23, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

WASHINGTON / UNITED NATION – The United States eavesdropped on conversations of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other UN officials, according to a report by The Washington Post citing leaked classified intelligence documents the newspaper obtained.

The UN has officially expressed to the US the world body's concern over reported surveillance on Secretary-General Antonio  Guterres, a UN spokesman said 

Guterres expressed to UN officials and world leaders his "outrage" over being denied an opportunity to visit Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region, The Post said in a Monday report, citing four documents, two of them previously unreported.

The UN has officially expressed to the US its concern over reported surveillance on Guterres, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

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"UN officially expressed to the host country its concern regarding recent reports that the communications of the secretary-general and other senior UN officials have been the subject of surveillance and interference by the US government," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres.

"The UN has made it clear that such actions are inconsistent with the obligations of the United States of America enumerated in the UN Charter and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations," he added.

Guterres, according to a document dated Feb 17 and seen by The Post, wanted to confront Ethiopian UN Representative Taye Atske Selassie Amde as the country's foreign minister, Demeke Mekonnen, sent Guterres a letter rejecting his planned visit to Tigray amid peace negotiations.

Another document obtained by The Post revealed that Guterres was "not happy" about having to travel to Kiev to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in early March. While the document didn't provide a reason for the secretary general's unwillingness, The Post cited a UN diplomat as saying weeks of tiring international travels on commercial flights was the cause.

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The trove of leaked classified documents, numbering hundreds of pages and resulting in the arrest of a US air national guardsman on charges of disclosing classified national defense information without authorization, has seen the US scramble to assess the damage and restrict access to classified information for certain employees at the Department of Defense.

Other documents recently reported by US media showed the US has also been spying on allies such as South Korea, Israel and Ukraine.

Asked by Xinhua at a Brookings Institution event on Monday to comment on allegations of US spying efforts and on how Washington should soothe the concerns expressed by its allies, Democratic House Representative Abigail Spanberger refused to comment on "anything specifically that was leaked."

The congresswoman, who prior to becoming a lawmaker worked as an operations officer at the Central Intelligence Agency, praised the US administration's "commitment to safeguarding the information that we collect and our commitment to safeguarding the information collect and provide to us."