NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo by Reuters
Text size

The U.S. National Security Agency is routinely sharing American citizens' private data with Israeli intelligence services, a secret document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden shows, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, intelligence being passed by the U.S agency to Israel is likely to include American citizens' phone calls and emails.

The five-page document which outlines the data-sharing agreement, struck between the two countries in March 2009, repeatedly mentions the need to upkeep American citizens' constitutional rights to privacy. While stipulating that data passed to Israeli hands must be treated by the Israeli intelligence services in accordance with U.S. law, no legal obligations are attached, the document shows.

Israeli intelligence services are allowed "to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning U.S. persons derived from raw Sigint [signal intelligence] by NSA," on the condition that it does so "in a manner that does not identify the U.S. person," the document, which has been published in full at the Guardian's website, says.

The revelations over the NSA's programs have recently been the the focus of intense scrutiny over what is seen as widespread privacy violations.

The Israeli embassy in London responded to the Guardian report, saying "we don't comment on leaked documents."

In another top-secret document shared with the Guardian and dated 2008, a senior NSA official is quoted as saying that Israel aggressively spies on the U.S. According to the official, "On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems… A [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S."