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The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used its surveillance tactics to monitor Al Jazeera, a Middle East-based broadcaster that recently purchased Al Gore’s Current TV to open an official branch in the U.S.

German publication Der Spiegel claims it has seen documents from former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden regarding the spying efforts on Al Jazeera. It seems the document was dated March 23, 2006 and detailed a surveillance mission that included accessing Al Jazeera’s communications to obtain information about “interesting targets.” Who these targets were — sources, journalists, or other — is not specified. It does mention that the mission to access “Al Jazeera broadcasting internal communications” was a “notable success.”

If information was encrypted, it was delivered to the NSA to be cracked and digested.

We have reached out to Al Jazeera and the NSA for comment and will update this post upon hearing back.


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Information leaked by Snowden has been hitting newspapers pretty steadily since June when he released groundbreaking information about a U.S. government surveillance program called PRISM. The most recent information to emerge concerned a “black budget” for the United States’ intelligence agencies.

He has taken political asylum in Russia. Today’s Snowden document itself has not been released.

Al Jazeera was hacked in 2012, but by the recently popularized Syrian Electronic Army. This is a group of pro-regime hackers that often defaces or otherwise disturbs publications whose reporting on the conflict in Syria it does not like. Al Jazzera, at the time, was running a liveblog of the conflict, which the SEA defaced.

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