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Turkey Questions US Envoy Over NSA Spying

Amidst the Press

(Photo : Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc addresses the media in Ankara May 31, 2010.

Turkey summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires Sunday to explain the looming issue of the National Security Agency's surveillance on Turkey. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc confirmed the summons, a day after Der Spiegel reported on confidential documents released by former NSA operative Edward Snowden.

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According to the German weekly magazine, the confidential documents from Snowden revealed that NSA had been spying intensively on Turkish leaders since 2006. The report further said that information from surveillance activities also were shared with the closest intelligence allies of U.S. such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Britain.

Der Spiegel revealed that the activity was aimed at retrieving information about the strategic intentions of newly elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was Prime Minister for more than a decade through Aug. 28. The report also outlined that the US agency ranked Turkey in the same level as Venezuela, even ahead of Cuba, when it comes to interest in intelligence collection.

The Turkish foreign ministry released a statement asking for ample explanations from the U.S. regarding the matter. The statement said that if the allegations were indeed true, these activities were unacceptable and didn't align with the alliance forged by the two nations.

The statement also announced on a rather firm note that the U.S. was expected to look into the matter. It said the U.S. should "terminate its activities targeting our state institutions and foreign missions."

Erdogan announced that he will be discussing the matter during The North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Wales, as well as in the United Nations General Assembly meeting within the month.

"All countries with established intelligence services do it all the time," Erdogan said, "but how they do it and what they reveal is important."

John Bass, the new US ambassador, has yet to arrive in Ankara.

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