Top-secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show that U.S. intelligence services are spying on 38 embassies and diplomatic missions of its allies including the European Union and Japan, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Sunday.
The paper said in its online edition that the diplomatic missions of such countries as France, Italy, Greece, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey were described as "targets" in the September 2010 documents provided by the former U.S. intelligence contractor.
The United States adopts spying methods ranging from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables and the collection of transmissions with specialized antennas, the daily said.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday Tokyo is seeking to verify The Guardian report by asking Washington for confirmation via diplomatic channels.
The British paper said the United States placed a bug in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the EU embassy in Washington that sends cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals.
The eavesdropping on the EU embassy involved three different operations targeted on the embassy's 90 staff with electronic implants and the use of antennas, it added.
Among the documents leaked by Snowden is a floor plan of the EU mission at the United Nations in midtown Manhattan, New York. The methods used against the mission include a covert operation that appears to provide a copy of everything on a targeted computer's hard drive, the newspaper said.
NSA documents suggest Washington aims to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between EU member states, according to The Guardian.
As of Sunday, Snowden was believed to be staying at a Moscow airport. He flew to the Russian capital from Hong Kong after the U.S. Justice Department charged him with espionage and theft of government property in connection with revelations of alleged NSA Internet and phone surveillance.
Snowden has asked Ecuador for asylum but Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa told the Associated Press on Sunday that he is "under the care of the Russian authorities" and cannot leave the Moscow airport with his U.S. passport revoked.