The NSA May Have Spied On Pope Francis [Report]

What the NSA expects to get out of spying on phone calls in and out of the Vatican is hard to say, but a new report claims that they were listening in just in case.

The Italian magazine Panorama claims that the National Security Agency monitored electronic communications inside of the Vatican prior to the papal conclave that elected Pope Francis. Before he was elected, Francis may also have been a target of NSA surveillance.

Per Panorama:

“Panorama magazine said that among 46 million phone calls followed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in Italy from December 10, 2012, to January 8, 2013, were conversations in and out of the Vatican…

“Panorama said the recorded Vatican phone calls were catalogued by the NSA in four categories – leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.”

The magazine also ambiguously claims that the “NSA had tapped the Pope,” suggesting that surveillance of Francis continued after he was elected. They said that the spying had been going on for months, but did not cite any source to corroborate their claims.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi responded to the claim, saying: “We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it.”

But plenty of observers are clearly concerned, as revelations about the breadth and depth of the NSA’s controversial spying programs continue to come out. Last week, the German government seemed to confirm that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone had been monitored by American spies.

Additionally, reports have claimed that the communications of leaders in Brazil and China were also monitored.

It’s unknown precisely what the NSA stands to gain from monitoring the Vatican, but the magazine claimed that the phone calls fell into four categories: Leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.

Do you think that the NSA spied on Pope Francis?

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]