NASSAU, Bahamas — The Bahamas government has sought an explanation from the United States government over claims the National Security Agency is collecting, recording and archiving every cellphone conversation in The Bahamas, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said.
The allegation stems from documents allegedly leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
According to documents, the NSA is using a surveillance system called SOMALGET to collect and store “full-take audio” of every mobile call made in The Bahamas and storing it for up to 30 days.
The documents also list Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and another country, whose name was redacted, as countries where the program exists.
Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage would not comment on the matter on Monday, but promised to make inquiries into the allegations.
Snowden’s latest disclosures were published on The Intercept website and claim that the NSA used “access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network.”
The website says it “provides a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.”
The documents state that SOMALGET’s access to the “Bahamian GSM communications” has led to the discovery of international narcotics traffickers and special-interest smugglers.
The documents also list SOMALGET as part of a bigger program called MYSTIC, which is described as a program for “the collection and processing of wireless-mobile communication networks.”
“The overt purpose is for legitimate commercial services for the telcos themselves; our covert mission is the provision of SIGINT,” the document reads.
According to the NSA’s website, “SIGINT is intelligence derived from electronic signals and systems used by foreign targets, such as communications systems, radars and weapons systems.”