From Paul Kneisel <>
Date Wed, 15 Mar 2000 18:00:00 -0500

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Zenit [i.e. Vatican] News Service, "ECHELON SPYING ON JOHN PAUL II? Office
of Public Prosecutor in Rome Studying Case," 29 Feb 00

ROME -- At present the Office of the Public Prosecutor in
Rome is studying the possibility of opening an official investigation on
the revelations in the London "Sunday Times," alleging that the Echelon
network spied on Papal and Vatican activities.

The investigators have in their possession the article published in
England and others that appeared in the Italian press, to verify if
there is sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. Last Sunday,
the English newspaper quoted secret agents saying that Echelon
intercepted messages sent by the Pope. The messages were then given to
officials of the British government's secret service. Italian attorney
Pietro Saviotti is responsible for the investigation.

Echelon was established in 1947 by the United States, Canada, Great
Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, to create a sophisticated network
of interception of all kinds of communications. The little that is
publicly known about Echelon appears in the book "Secret Power," by New
Zealander Nicky Hager. Scottish reporter Duncan Campbell has also made
disclosures that appear in a report published last month in Brussels.

Echelon is controlled by the U.S. National Security Agency. It works
with a network of 120 satellites and stations located in different
countries. According to press sources, it is able to intercept 95% of
world communications trasmitted on Internet, fax, telephone, etc.

The English and Italian articles state that Echelon extended its
espionage systems to communications of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and
Princess Diana. Echelon is especially interested in the activities of
humanitarian organizations, as they have privileged information on the
countries where they operate.

If it can be demonstrated that messages were intercepted on Italian
telephone lines, the Roman Magistrate's competency would be automatic.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Rome has already collected a
series of documents from the European Parliament, to study carefully the
possibility that Echelon has been involved in illicit activities.
Further investigation depends on this, because to serve an international
writ on the United States an hypothesis of illegality must first be

Echelon has been the topic of conversation at the international
political level, but to date no one has presented an official accusation
in the courts. Last week the issue reached the European Parliament; it
was discussed during a congress on "The European Union and Data
Protection." In Brussels, British Prime Minister Tony Blair previously
denied any wrongful use of the sophisticated planetary interception

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