The American National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the phone conversations of 35 heads of state, according to yet another leaked memo provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The conversations were allegedly intercepted after another US government department handed the leaders' mobile and home phone numbers to the NSA. The memo was a general call to members of other departments to share their 'rolodexes', or address books, with the agency.
"In one case," the memo states, "a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders", including "43 previously unknown numbers." However, the memo concedes, little "reportable intelligence" was actually gathered from these numbers, although their monitoring did turn up leads to other numbers that "have subsequently been tasked."
The latest allegations are just another in a long list of revelations about the power and scope of the NSA's spying operations.
With Angela Merkel today calling President Obama to censure him for the NSA allegedly snooping on her cell phone calls, the American spy agency is becoming an increasing diplomatic liability for the US government. The President of Mexico also had his private email account compromised, according to recent reports.
She said that any monitoring of her communications by the agency would be "a serious breach of trust."
The NSA has also been accused of hacking the computers of the Élysée Palace, the residence of the French President, and of eavesdropping on over 70 million phone conversations in France.
White House Press secretary Jay Carney gave a statement yesterday, admitting that "the [NSA] revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries," adding, "we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels."
"These are very important relations both economically and for our security," Carney went on to say, "and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties."
There is as yet no evidence to confirm the identities of all 35 hacked world leaders.
Image: Flickr (Downing Street)