NSA accused as Belgian telecom reports snooping

NSA accused as Belgian telecom reports snooping
An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.

BRUSSELS - Belgium denounced Monday the "substantial and invasive" hacking of its biggest telecommunications company, saying a foreign state may have been responsible, as media pointed the finger at the scandal-hit NSA.

Two months after the blockbuster revelations of the US National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, state-owned Belgacom said its computers had been hacked and a formal complaint filed to Belgian prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the hacking could have only been done by an entity "with significant financial and logistical means" and that suspicions were circling on an act of "international state espionage".

On the basis of the information so far, the aim was probably "to gather strategic information" rather than to "sabotage or to cause economic damage," the prosecutors said.

Belgian minister responsible for public companies Jean-Pascale Labille said investigators will have to find the organisations behind the "substantial and invasive" hacking.

The country will raise cyber-security issues with its European partners, he said, adding that he understood France had suffered similar incidents.

The servers belonged to employees of Belgacom and did not involve customers' data or communications, the company said.

But Belgian media on Monday directed their suspicions at the NSA, the super-secret security agency exposed by Snowden as a snooper of multi-national institutions, embassies, and even the United States' closest allies.

This included covert and systematic surveillance of EU offices, diplomatic missions in Washington and at the United Nations in New York.

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