LONDON (AFP) -Britain’s electronic spy agency GCHQ tapped emails of journalists at some of the world’s biggest media organisations, The Guardian reported on Monday.
The report said GCHQ gathered emails from journalists at the BBC, The Guardian, Le Monde, NBC, The New York Times, Reuters, The Sun and The Washington Post.
The emails were among 70,000 gathered in less than 10 minutes in 2008 by the spy agency, Britain’s equivalent of the US National Security Agency, according to The Guardian’s analysis of documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The emails were gathered in one of many taps of the fibre-optic cables that form the Internet’s backbone, and were available for viewing by any cleared staff on GCHQ’s intranet, according to the report.
A spokesman for GCHQ told the paper, “All of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state.”
The spy agency considers journalists as “a potential threat to security” according to internal security advice cited by The Guardian, with investigative journalists listed as a threat alongside terrorists and hackers.