- US security services ‘targeted Francis in run up to and during conclave’
- Claims NSA intercepted phone calls made to and from priests’ residence
- Other leading bishops and cardinals ‘also being monitored by US spies’
PUBLISHED: 14:58 EST, 30 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:42 EST, 30 October 2013
The US spied on both Popes Francis and Benedict, it was claimed today.
American security services reportedly targeted Francis in the run up to and during the conclave at which he was elected head of the world’s 1.2billion Catholics.
As the cardinals gathered in Rome to choose their leader in a secret ballot, it was said the National Security Agency intercepted phone calls made to and from the priests’ residence occupied by the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Maria Bergoglio.
Claims: American security services reportedly targeted Pope Francis (centre) in the run up to and during the conclave at which he was elected head of the world’s 1.2billion Catholics
Other leading bishops and cardinals were also being monitored by US spies, weekly current affairs magazine Panorama claimed.
‘It is feared that the great ear of the United States may have continued to intercept the conversations of prelates until the end of the conclave, March 12, 2013,’ the magazine said.
Archbishop Bergoglio had been a person of interest to the CIA since 2005, it claimed.
The latest revelations follow allegations by American website Crytome that the US monitored 46million Italian telephone calls last year.
Calls by former Pope Benedict, who resigned in February this year, may have been among them – as voice traffic to and from the Vatican was also intercepted, Panorama said.
Intercepted? Calls by former Pope Benedict, who resigned in February this year, may have been among monitored voice traffic, Panorama said
Conversations relating to the selection of new President of the Vatican Bank were also said to have monitored.
US spies divided information from Vatican targets into categories including Leadership intentions, Threats to financial system, Foreign Policy Objectives and Human Rights, the magazine claimed.
A secret-service cell made up of NSA and CIA operatives continues to work out of the US embassy in Rome, the news weekly said, citing 2010 documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
As well as analysing voice and data traffic from tapped mobile phones, the operatives follow money trails through contacts who are database administrators, bankers and engineers with access to high-security sites, it was reported.
The NSA has denied the allegations.
‘The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy’s Panorama magazine, are not true,’ agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in a statement.
The Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.
Asked to comment on the report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: ‘We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it.’