President Barack Obama and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano

President Barack Obama and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano

Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano on Wednesday told journalists that Italian citizens need to know the truth about the extent of the alleged spying activities conducted by the US National Security Administration (NSA). A new report recently revealed that the communications of millions of Italian citizens was also on the NSA radar, according to a report published by Corriere della Sera. Italy joins a growing list of other nations who have come to the realization that they too are being treated suspect by the NSA, and are not immune to their unlawful and widespread surveillance initiative.

To confirm the allegations Italian committee members had to visit the US, to meet with US intelligence agency directors, as well as with congressional committee chairs. After the recent expose by France’s Le Monde newspaper, unveiling that the US intelligence agency had tapped tens of millions of French phone conversations, the Italian privacy authority – Guarantor for the Protection of Personal Data – and the Italian parliament intelligence supervisory committee Copasir asked cabinet to clarify whether and to what extent the NSA had been acquiring Italian communications.

Giacomo Stucchi

Giacomo Stucchi

But Italian officials may not have been entirely ignorant to the controversial actions of the west, having admitted that a surveillance system has been in place for several years now. One source from the Italian intelligence agency affirmed that there was no indication that this type of monitoring may have been occurring, and that is possible involved spying on Italian political figures. The president of Copasir, Giacomo Stucchi, who participated in the trip to the US, has denied that the Italian government was aware of the NSA’s Prism program or its reach into Italian communications. And also denied the notion of there being any sensitive data on Italian citizens that had been passed on to US intelligence. As well, affirming that Italian embassies in the US were not being spied on.

“In every encounter, we had the confirmation that the (Italian) government did not know about the Prism program. Thus to say that our intelligence services knew, when the government did not, is not correct,… In NSA headquarters, they told us that they gathered information on traffic data, but none in Italy. In other words the governments of Prodi, Berlusconi and, for a few months, Letta, and thus not even (Italian) intelligence services were made aware of what they were doing,” – Giacomo Stucchi.

Italy, joins Mexico, Germany, Brazil, and France, for having come out publicly criticizing the NSA spying revelations, and demanding justification from US officials. The broad privacy violations are seen by many to be violations to national sovereignty, and have fueled several to demand prompt explanations. In the past, Spain also sought information and clarification, concerning a report published in Der Spiegel which alleged that Spain was a target of NSA surveillance also. Since Edward Snowden first exposed the privacy violations of the NSA surveillance program, several lawsuits have been filed, and the US government has received much criticism [which isn’t anything new really]. I don’t think we can expect the US to tone down her police state regime anytime soon.