Italian magazine says U.S. spies listened to pope, Vatican says unaware

VATICAN CITY Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:13pm EDT

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi talks to reporters during a news conference at the Vatican February 12, 2013. REUTERS/ Tony Gentile

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi talks to reporters during a news conference at the Vatican February 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/ Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - An Italian magazine said on Wednesday that a United States spy agency had eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls, possibly including when former Pope Benedict's successor was under discussion, but the Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.

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.

In a press release before full publication on Thursday, Panorama said the "NSA had tapped the pope". It cited no source for its information.

Asked to comment on the report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it."

Media reports based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia, have said the NSA had spied on French citizens over the same period in December in January.

Last week, the German government appeared to confirm that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone had also been monitored by American spies. The issue has also caused Washington problems with Brazil and China.

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.

Benedict resigned on February 28 this year and his successor, Pope Francis, was elected on March 13.

"It is feared" that calls were listened to up until the start of the conclave that elected Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Panorama said.

The magazine said there was also a suspicion that the Rome residence where some cardinals lived before the conclave, including the future pope, was monitored.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Philip Pullella and Angus MacSwan)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
fafsbo wrote:
Dare we say it? Nothing is sacred to the USA. Get in the way of their money and “all Hell will break loose”.

Oct 30, 2013 1:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
renlim wrote:
Talk about a backdoor coup d’etat since the opportunity of 9/11 for the Bush administration( or should I say the Cheney administration)and the Trojan Horse strategy of Wall Street Banks and the Federal Reserve of taking away the NSA and other intelligence agencies away from Federal Government control…BRILLIANT!.. Once in place in a bureaucracy it’s difficult to extract it away..as with the global economy. Do not think of the illusion of governmental representation anymore…Think about Corporatocracy ownership…And start to practice being a slaves.

Oct 30, 2013 1:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.