WikiLeaks: Bank monitoring irked Europe

Dec. 5, 2010 at 9:04 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Europe quickly soured on a U.S. counterterrorism program to electronically monitor banking transactions, diplomatic cables posted by WikiLeaks said.

The program was blocked by the European Parliament last winter, apparently due to mounting concerns in Europe about violations of privacy rights and the possibility of economic espionage against European companies.

"Paranoia runs deep especially about US intelligence agencies," a secret cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said.

The New York Times Sunday reported the WikiLeaks cables described growing public resentment over the similarities to government snooping that occurred in Europe during the Nazi era and the Cold War.

The program focused on a Brussels consortium known as Swift, which maintains a huge database the processes huge numbers of international bank transactions. The Bush administration began keeping an eye on the database after Sept. 11, 2001; however, after its existence became known in 2006, objections became increasingly frequent and the European Parliament voted this year to put a stop to it.

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