US spied on UN boss, South Korean president: Pentagon leaks

United States is notorious for spying on friends and foes alike.

New Delhi | Updated: 13 April, 2023 4:54 pm IST

The United States, notorious for spying on friends and foes alike, has spied on United Nations chief António Guterres and the office of the South Korean president, as per according to classified documents leaked online.

The secret files, prepared for senior Pentagon officials, also reveal that the US has closely monitored communications at the office of the UN secretary general and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
As per reports, several leaked documents detail conversations between Guterres and his deputy and two top advisers to the South Korean president, who has been under US pressure to arm Ukraine against Russia.

One document focused on the Black Sea grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey in July 2022, which was intended to prevent a global food crisis. The leaked document suggests that Guterres was willing to accommodate Russia’s interests to preserve the deal.

UN officials deny that Guterres has been soft on Moscow and insist that the UN’s primary goal is to mitigate the impact of the war on the world’s poorest. Russia has frequently complained that international sanctions have adversely affected its own exports of grain and fertiliser.

Another leaked document seen by BBC reveals a sensitive conversation between high-level South Korean officials on whether to sell weapons that could be used in Ukraine.

The intercept targeted two of President Yeol’s senior advisors, who were torn between US pressure to send ammunition to Ukraine and their policy not to arm countries at war.

According to the leaked document, the South Koreans are worried that President Biden could call President Yoon directly about the issue, and that if South Korea were to change its policy on providing weapons to Ukraine, it could look as if it had been pressured by the US.

The documents suggest that the South Koreans were open to their shells ending up in Ukraine, which could strain their relationship with Russia.

The leaked documents could not only damage America’s image and impact Washington-Seoul at a time when many countries in Europe are already showing signs that they would no longer take lines to serve US interests.

Interestingly, the revelations come days before President Yoel’s scheduled visit to the White House on a state visit to celebrate 70 years of the alliance between the US and South Korea.

South Korea has said that it is not “possible” to spy on someone inside the presidential office but has launched an investigation. Meanwhile, its Opposition has called for an investigation into alleged espionage by the United States, accusing Washington of violating its sovereignty and committing a super-scale security breach. The US has not yet commented on the leak or allegations of spying.

In April last year, European media reported that the US had utilized Denmark’s secret service to conduct surveillance on leaders of numerous European countries, including then German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Reports suggest that Denmark harbors several crucial landing stations for subsea internet cables connecting Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

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