An American law firm was monitored by the National Security Agency's Australian counterpart while it supplied legal advice to a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States, according to a document provided by N.S.A. whistleblower Edward Snowden, and reported in The New York Times Saturday.
As The New York Times reports:
The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance in which Americans were ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.
The unnamed law firm had been hired by the government of Indonesia for help in trade talks, including ongoing conflicts with the U.S. The New York Times reports that the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, conducted surveillance of the communications between the firm and the Indonesian government and offered to share the information with the NSA.
It is unclear whether the NSA obtained any of the surveillance, but it did provide guidance to the Australian agency for its surveillance procedures.
The document notes that the Australian agency was “able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers.”