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The United Nations (UN) has responded to a leaked Pentagon document indicating that the U.S. government has been spying on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s private communications.
The leaked document regarding the Secretary was part of a larger trove of documents that initially surfaced on the video game social media platform Discord, beginning in January. Authorities have since arrested 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, an Airman First Class in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, in connection with the leaks.
Sabrina Singh, Department of Defense (DOD) Deputy Press Secretary, told reporters Monday that the DOD does not yet know exactly how many documents were exposed by Teixeira.
Meanwhile, during a press briefing Tuesday, Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that the UN had formally rebuffed the U.S. for reportedly spying on Guterres.
“These documents which were basically distorted summaries of the Secretary-General’s conversation. We have now officially expressed to the host country our concern regarding the recent reports that communications of the Secretary-General and other senior UN officials have been the subject of surveillance and interference by the U.S. Government,” Dujarric said.
“We have made it clear that such actions are inconsistent with the obligations of the United States as enumerated in the chart of the United Nations and the convention and on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations,” the spokesman added, noting that the UN sent a “note verbal” to the Ameican mission of the UN lodging a formal complaint.
Dujarric did not question the authenticity of the leaked documents but called them “distorted”. Meanwhile, the other countries impacted by the leaked documents including, South Korea, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, the UK, and the UAE have all either denied the information contained in the leaked materials or questioned the authenticity of the documents.
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The documents reportedly indicated that Guterres was frustrated with the Ukrainian government for demanding that he visit Kyiv. Another document suggested that the Secretary was annoyed with the Government of Ethiopia for denying him access to Tigray. The documents alleged that Guterres wanted to “convey his outrage” to the Ethiopian UN representatives regarding being denied access to Tigray and also mentioned Guterres receiving a personal apology from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
According to the documents, Guterres was also “really pissed off” that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky staged a “surprise” event with Ukrainian soldiers for the Secretary during a visit, which led to photos that made him look like he was visiting to support Ukrainian forces as opposed to visiting for humanitarian purposes.
Last week Dujarric said, “The secretary-general has been at this job, and in the public eye, for a long time. He’s not surprised by the fact that people are spying on him and listening in to his private conversations.”
“What is surprising is the malfeasance or incompetence that allows such private conversations to be distorted and become public,” he concluded.
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