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Jairam Ramesh among leaders angered by NSA surveillance

PTI | Last Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 - 21:21

London: Leaders from several countries, including Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, have reacted angrily to revelations that the US spied on their governments at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, according to a media report.

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show the US monitored communications between key countries before and during the conference held in Denmark from December 7 to 18, 2009, the Guardian reported.

The monitoring was done to give US negotiators advance information about the positions of other countries at the high-profile meeting where leaders, including US President Barack Obama and former UK premier Gordon Brown, failed to agree on a deal on climate change.
Ramesh, then the environment minister and a key player in talks that involved 192 countries and 110 heads of state, told the daily: "Why the hell did they do this and at the end of this, what did they get out of Copenhagen? They got some outcome but certainly not the outcome they wanted.

"It was completely silly of them. First of all, they didn`t get what they wanted. With all their hi-tech gizmos and all their snooping, ultimately the Basic countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) bailed Obama out. With all their snooping what did they get?"

Ramesh said he had no idea the US was spying on him. "I didn`t get a sense that I was being followed. I didn`t get a sense that my phones were tapped."

Martin Khor, an adviser to developing countries at the summit and director of the South Centre thinktank, said: "Spying on one another like this is absolutely not on. When someone has an upper hand (it) is very disconcerting. There should be an assurance in negotiations like this that powerful players are not going to gain undue advantage with technological surveillance."
The NSA would keep US negotiators abreast of their rivals` positions, the leaked documents said.

"Leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts, details of which are of great interest to our policymakers...Signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the negotiations," one document was quoted as saying.

The document showed the NSA provided advance details of a Danish plan to "rescue" the talks should they flounder, and that it learnt of China`s efforts to coordinate its position with India before the conference.

The talks ended in disarray after the US, working with a group of 25 countries, tried to push through an agreement that developing countries mostly rejected.

Snowden fled the US in May last year after leaking thousands of documents that revealed intrusive internet and phone surveillance by the NSA and other intelligence services. He is currently living in Russia.

First Published: Friday, January 31, 2014 - 21:21

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