March 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 43
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Office of Public Prosecutor in Rome Studying Case

    ROME, FEB 29 (ZENIT).- At present the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Rome is studying the possibility of opening an official investigation on the revelations in the London "Sunday Times," alleging that the Echelon network spied on Papal and Vatican activities.

    The investigators have in their possession the article published in England and others that appeared in the Italian press, to verify if there is sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. Last Sunday, the English newspaper quoted secret agents saying that Echelon intercepted messages sent by the Pope. The messages were then given to officials of the British government's secret service. Italian attorney Pietro Saviotti is responsible for the investigation.

    Echelon was established in 1947 by the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, to create a sophisticated network of interception of all kinds of communications. The little that is publicly known about Echelon appears in the book "Secret Power," by New Zealander Nicky Hager. Scottish reporter Duncan Campbell has also made disclosures that appear in a report published last month in Brussels.

    Echelon is controlled by the U.S. National Security Agency. It works with a network of 120 satellites and stations located in different countries. According to press sources, it is able to intercept 95% of world communications trasmitted on Internet, fax, telephone, etc.

    The English and Italian articles state that Echelon extended its espionage systems to communications of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Princess Diana. Echelon is especially interested in the activities of humanitarian organizations, as they have privileged information on the countries where they operate.

    If it can be demonstrated that messages were intercepted on Italian telephone lines, the Roman Magistrate's competency would be automatic. The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Rome has already collected a series of documents from the European Parliament, to study carefully the possibility that Echelon has been involved in illicit activities. Further investigation depends on this, because to serve an international writ on the United States an hypothesis of illegality must first be formulated.

    Echelon has been the topic of conversation at the international political level, but to date no one has presented an official accusation in the courts. Last week the issue reached the European Parliament; it was discussed during a congress on "The European Union and Data Protection." In Brussels, British Prime Minister Tony Blair previously denied any wrongful use of the sophisticated planetary interception network. ZE00022905


March 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 43

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