EU Probes Alleged Spying Network Echelon

ByConstant Brand

B R U S S E L S, Belgium, Sept. 13, 2000 -- Senior members of a European Union committee said Tuesday they want U.S. intelligence chiefs to testify on whether an alleged American-led eavesdropping network monitors the businesses of its European allies.

European Parliament Vice President Gerhard Schmid, a German whois a senior member on the committee investigating the allegedEchelon spy network, said he would like to see the U.S. NationalSecurity Agency head, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, comebefore the committee.

Schmid said he wants the American intelligence chiefs to discusshow the NSA gathers intelligence.

“If it’s up to me, we will have American representatives,perhaps even U.S. senators and the director of the NSA,” Schmidtold reporters.

U.S. Denies Echelon’s Existence

In testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee inApril, Hayden and CIA Director George Tenet denied reports theUnited States was involved in spying on Europeans and Americans aspart of a satellite surveillance network.

Committee chairman Carlos Coelho of Portugal said that a list ofindustry experts, politicians, U.S. and EU officials would becalled before the committee.

The Echelon issue surfaced in February when a EuropeanParliament report outline what it said were Echelon’s practices.

It said Echelon intercepts “billions of messages per hour,”including telephone calls, fax transmissions and private e-mails.

The EU Parliament set up the special probe in July. Nationalinquiries were also launched in France and Denmark.

The spy network is said to include Canada, Britain, Australiaand New Zealand and is alleged to be led by the the NationalSecurity Agency.

Hearings into Echelon got under way Monday and continuedTuesday.

European Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said he couldnot deny the existence of Echelon, but said the European Unionwould shortly implement new encryption and data protection rules toimprove privacy rights to help deter eavesdropping.

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