US denies claims of spying on Turkish authorities

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismisses claims of spying on Turkish authorities

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner held a press conference in Washington on December 29, 2015.

The Obama administration on Tuesday rejected claims that the US spies on Turkish authorities.

The denial came hours after the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that the US.conducted surveillance on some of its NATO allies, including Turkish authorities.

"I've never heard of such allegations," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

"I won't speak beyond that what our intelligence activities may be and I'm not speaking in respect to Turkey, certainly, but in general, Turkey is a valued NATO ally."

As members of a coalition fighting to destroy DAESH, the US values Turkey's input and participation in that effort, according to Toner.  

He said the US changed its approach to surveillance after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, in 2013, exposed much of the agency’s spying operations.

White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said President Barack Obama has instructed his administration to refrain from monitoring communications of foreign leaders of allies.

“Heads of state and government with whom we work closely, on whose cooperation we depend, should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners,” he said in response to an Anadolu Agency inquiry.  

Snowden leaked information that showed the NSA had for years tapped the phone calls of German chancellor Angela Merkel and her closest advisers and staff.

The revelation strained ties between Germany and the US.