The American Intelligence Service – National Security Agency’s activities have caused a global uproar yet again after internal documents provided by esteemed leaker and recent recipient of the whistleblower award – Edward Snowden showed that the agency had hacked into the internal communications of one of Qatar’s major state run institutions, or more specifically ‘Al Jazeera’.
The news was first published by the German newspaper Der Spiegel who claim that the report indicates that the hacking was highly successful and that it helped the NSA intercept a dialogue between “interesting targets”. Whether this refers to conversations between Al Jazeera’s employee’s or between journalists and their valued sources remains unclear.
Since the news was published yesterday, the twitterverse and social media have been in uproar. With the majority of journalists and rights watch groups united in protest against NSA’s immoral activities.
Sources within the United States Intelligence community contacted by Qatar Chronicle offered no comment on the truth of the matter, however they justified the logic behind the surveillance saying that Al Jazeera’s journalists have had direct contact with Al-Qaida and its leadership and that the media channel has aired communications directly from the Al-Qaida often. The efforts thereby were seemingly guided at obtaining new information regarding the terrorist organization.
ihorizons – the company responsible for Al Jazeera’s Content Management Solutions have remained unavailable for comment. Its CEO Mr. Mohamad Takriti had recently spoken at a Media event that the company’s specially designed system for Al Jazeera -Knowledge Server 3.0 was so secure that it had withstood several hacking attempts from both sides since 2001 without revealing the slightest hint of information. However in light of the new documents unveiled by Snowden indicating that the NSA had successfully hacked the system in 2006, the validity of Mr Takriti’s claims have been thrown into question. Neither ihorizons nor Al-Jazeera have commented on measures taken to secure their communications post the reported news of NSA surveillance, and this puts the media’s network of highly valuable sources at risk.
Although it is not certain if the NSA obtained any valuable ‘actionable’ intelligence from the immoral surveillance, this provides another fresh case of USA’s cyberspace surveillance program (among them most notably PRISM), overstepping its boundaries and infringing on the rights of common citizens across the globe. Even more significant is the fact that this new case is evidence of their spying activities being directed against journalists.
Along with Al Jazeera, the new documents also show evidence of NSA’s illegal surveillance activities against Russian airline Aeroflot and Chinese mobile operators reports Der Spiegel.