The US National Security Agency (NSA) tapped a phone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his former Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks has revealed.
In their phone call which took place on March 13, 2010, the two leaders discussed US-Israel relations on an international line, meaning that they failed to follow required instructions to keep the call confidential.
This raises the possible scenario that both or at least one of them knew that the conversation is prone to espionage.
Following the leak by the WikiLeaks on Tuesday, Italy's Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to Rome.
According to NSA’s report of the conversation, during the call Netanyahu asked for Berlusconi’s assistance amid an “absence of contact” between him and US President Barack Obama.
In response Berlusconi “promised to put Italy at Israel’s disposal in helping mend [Israel’s] ties with Washington.”
The call took place after US-Israel relations went cold following the Tel Aviv regime’s authorization of constructing 1,600 new units in Ramat Shlomo settlements in eastern al-Quds (Jerusalem), which was deemed illegal by the majority of the international community including the US.
The leaked NSA report noted that “Israel has reached out to Europe, including Italy, for help in smoothing out the current rift in its relations with the United States.”
The document further revealed that the wiretapping was done on Berlusconi’s office and not the Israeli end.
Other cables released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday also revealed that the NSA has spied on United National Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s private meetings to save American oil companies.
Ban was apparently attending a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss ways on how to tackle climate change.
"Today, we showed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's private meetings over how to save the planet from climate change were bugged by a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Tuesday.
Some of the new documents are classified TOP-SECRET / COMINT-GAMMA and are the most highly classified documents ever published by a media outlet.
The new leak puts Italy and Israel beside all the other major countries that are angered by the NSA surveillance programs carried out against them, including Japan, Brazil, France, Britain and Germany.
The NSA spying scandal was first exposed in 2013 by former CIA employee and government contractor Edward Snowden.