Spain enraged over US phone taps as spying row spirals

Spain enraged over US phone taps as spying row spirals
US ambassador in Spain, James Costos (C), leaves the foreign ministry after being summoned to a meeting with Spain's European Secretary of State in Madrid October 28, 2013.

MADRID - Spain summoned the US ambassador Monday to denounce newly reported mass US eavesdropping on its citizens' telephone calls as "inappropriate and unacceptable", as outrage spread over the worldwide espionage programme.

The Spanish government demanded details as it called in US Ambassador James Costos to explain the latest allegations in a growing scandal over US snooping on the telephone and online communications of ordinary citizens and world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The news emerged just as a European Parliament delegation began a three-day mission to Washington to probe the impact of the surveillance on EU citizens' "fundamental rights" and to discuss a threat to suspend an EU-US agreement on the transfer of banking data.

A senior Spanish foreign ministry official met with the US ambassador hours after the El Mundo daily published a classified document purportedly showing that the US security services tracked 60.5 million Spanish telephone calls in a single month.

The National Security Agency (NSA) recorded the origin and destination of the calls and their duration but not the content, said El Mundo, which printed a classified graph showing 30 days of call tracing up to January 8 this year.

The graph illustrated the daily volume of calls monitored in the period, peaking at 3.5 million on December 11.

Though not shown on the graph, the newspaper said such systematic trawling of huge volumes of digital information - or metadata - would include intercepting personal details through Internet web browsers, emails and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

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