WikiLeaks Threatens Disclosure of Unnamed Country Having All Phone Calls Tapped by NSA

The latest report from The Intercept claims that the NSA records every single phone call in Bahamas and one unnamed country, which the WikiLeaks threaten to release unilaterally.

The threat came after the WikiLeaks and The Intercept journalists had heated exchanges over Twitter about the daily’s report on Monday about cell phone metadata collection in Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya besides collecting and safekeeping of all cell phone calls in Bahamas and one undisclosed country.

The discussion involved WikiLeaks, Greenwald, Intercept editor in chief John Cook, and Jacob Appelbaum, American WikiLeaks hacker turned Der Spiegal contributor.

The report, based on classified documents leaked by whistleblower–Edward Snowden, states that surveillance is part of a top-secret system—SOMALGET, which in turn is part of a broader NSA surveillance program, MYSTIC.

While the former allows “full-take audio” of every mobile call, the latter scrapes the metadata of mobile networks that contains essential information about time, place and duration of calls.

“SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country,” reported The Intercept.

It is not just the routine anti-terrorism network that the NSA spies upon, as revealed by the NSA documents. The surveillance extends to monitoring “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers.”

The report also mentions that the NSA used the legal access obtained by the US drug Enforcement Agency to ‘open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network’ in the island nation of Bahamas.

The Intercept had censored the name of one country because of “specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.”

The daily is a recently launched media group by a team of journalists that include Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the journalists having access to Snowden documents.

WikiLeaks’ threat to publish the name of redacted country does hint that either the organization has access to the leaked documents or someone who has access to these documents has revealed the country’s identity to them.

Although Snowden has affirmed earlier that he did not leak documents to WikiLeaks, but there have been news about his closeness with Assange, the WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief.

Besides that Greenwald, Poitras, Assange, and Appelbaum, the key people in both organizations, are well known to one another.

The NSA did not comment on the program but did release a statement that:

“the implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false.”

However, Vanee Vines, NSA spokesperson, in a statement to TIME confirmed that the scope of the agency’s mandate extends beyond terrorism efforts. But he also said,

“The fact that the U.S. government works with other nations, under specific and regulated conditions, mutually strengthens the security of all.”

“The Agency collects data to meet specific security and intelligence requirements such as counterintelligence, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, cyber security, force protection for U.S. troops and allies, and combating transnational crime,” he added.

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