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U.N. to contact AT&T over claims it helped U.S. spy agency

The New York Times reported that AT&T had granted the U.S. National Security Agency access to billions of emails

Published: Updated:

The United Nations plans to contact AT&T following a report that the telecom giant helped U.S. intelligence wiretap online communications at the world body’s headquarters, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The New York Times reported that AT&T, which provides the Internet line to the United Nations in New York, had granted the U.S. National Security Agency access to billions of emails and helped wiretap exchanges.

“There will be contacts with AT&T,” said U.N. spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci.

“The inviolability of the United Nations is well established under international law, and we expect member states to act accordingly and to respect and protect that inviolability,” she told reporters.

The United Nations had previously received assurances from the United States that they were not monitoring U.N. communications, she said.

Documents dated from 2003 to 2013 provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica provided the basis for the report.

They described a “highly collaborative” telecom giant that demonstrated an “extreme willingness to help.”

The Times said it was unclear whether the programs are still operational in the same way today.

Company spokesman Brad Burns insisted that “we do not provide information to any investigating authorities without a court order or other mandatory process other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence.”