According to the most ridiculous accusation yet thrown at the NSA, the American spy agency eavesdropped on the Pope. But there is nothing, no matter how absurd, that can be dismissed out of hand anymore.
According to the Italian magazine Panorama (and only according to that magazine), the NSA spied on the current pontiff, Pope Francis, before and during the conclave in which, on March 13, the cardinals selected the new leader of the Catholic Church.
The NSA allegedly monitored telephone calls made to and from then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s residence in Rome where the stayed during the conclave, as well as other bishops and cardinals at the Vatican.
"It is feared that the great American ear continued to tap prelates’ conversations up to the eve of the conclave,” the magazine reported. There were “suspicions that the conversations of the future Pope may have been monitored," it continued.
There was no evidence that this actually happened and the magazine cited no sources.
The Independent noted that the allegations followed claims on Cryptome that “the US intercepted 46 million telephone calls in Italy between Dec 10 2012 and Jan 8 January 2013.”
These accusations were not borne out by the Vatican.
“We have heard nothing of this and in any case we have no concerns about it,” Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesman, told The Telegraph.
The NSA denied the charges as well.
"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican,” NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines told Reuters. “Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true.”
According to Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, U.S. secretary of State John Kerry told him him the Obama administration had “put the issue under review.” But Letta has called a meeting of the Italian Intergovernmental Committee on Security today to discuss the situation anyway.