Concerns are growing in Austria that the US National Security Agency has established a listening post in the capital Vienna to spy on people.
Austrian opposition parties say a stately villa in a posh district of Vienna serves as a sophisticated US intelligence center, but the US Embassy in the capital claims the building is an “Open Source Center” evaluating information, The Associated Press reported on Friday.
“Whatever it is, it’s confirmation of intelligence agency activity in Vienna,” political activist Rudolf Fussi said.
Fussi stated that the Austrian government has been cooperating with a foreign intelligence service, which is a crime punishable by a prison term.
Austrian opposition parties have demanded a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the NSA’s alleged use of the heavily guarded villa in Vienna to spy on citizens.
The building is “clearly a US intelligence center and according to our information [belongs to] the NSA,” Green party member Peter Pilz said, citing unnamed Austrian government officials.
Reports say the listening post is able to tap up to 70 percent of telecommunications in the Austrian capital.
However, the governments of the US and Austria have denied the reports.
Austrian media outlets are reporting that the US now plans to wrap up operations at the villa within a year or two because its cover has been blown.
Commenting on the development, Iranian political analyst Hamid Golpira said that probably one of the main goals of the NSA spying is to gather metadata.
“There is something else going on that everyone is not talking about so much… the concept of metadata. Perhaps, one of the main goals of this is to gather what they call big data or metadata… to analyze what they call meta-trends or major trends in society, and some of that can be used to try to figure out what people are thinking and also to figure out how to influence people’s thinking,” Golpira said.
“And also to analyze if their previous efforts to influence people’s way of thinking have been successful. That’s how some of this metadata analysis works,” he added.
“Unless there are some restraints put on this whole thing, we are heading toward a kind of total surveillance Orwellian world, as Orwell described in his book 1984, if it is not already more or less there, which is not a good thing for privacy, and it is not a good thing for a lot of issues. And it is not a good thing for people who are working for social justice if some of this surveillance is meant to undermine that,” Golpira stated.
In June, Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
Snowden also revealed information about NSA espionage activities targeting friendly countries across the world.
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted in July that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”
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