10/30/2013 12:16 pm ET Updated Oct 31, 2013

NSA Spied On Vatican And Top Catholic Cardinals, Says Italian Report


An Italian magazine is reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on internal communications at the Vatican and phone calls at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the church residence where cardinals lived during the papal conclave and the pope's current home.

The weekly magazine, Panorama, reports in an issue that hits the streets on Thursday that the NSA labeled calls in and out of Vatican offices as "leadership intentions," "threats to the financial system," "foreign policy objectives," and "human rights." It says calls regarding this year's election of the new president of the Vatican Bank, Ernst von Freyberg, were also intercepted.

The magazine does not cite a source for the wiretapping allegations, but it does refer to WikiLeaks to suggest that Francis was being watched as far back as 2005 when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi was quick to dismiss the charges on Wednesday.

"We don’t know anything about this, and in any case we don’t have any concerns about it," he said in a statement.

The NSA has also denied the magazine's accusations.

"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true," Vanee Vines, an NSA spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The article comes not long after an explosive report based on documents released by Edward Snowden that revealed the NSA spied on the calls of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Previous reports have also said the NSA intercepted tens of millions of calls in France and Spain. In June, Italian weekly l'Espresso reported that the NSA had also monitored millions of calls in Italy.

This article has been updated to include a statement from the NSA.



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