Nearly one year after it was reported that the United States was intercepting and monitoring Bahamian telephone calls, the U.S. has agreed to use “lawful” authority to obtain surveillance information from the Bahamas, according to Bahamas Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell this week.
Following a wave of backlash over the U.S. spying allegations, it was agreed that information-gathering would only be used for interdiction purposes. This includes information that aids in the clamp down of illegal activity, The Tribune understands.
While Mitchell would not elaborate when contacted for comment, he gave a vague statement to parliamentarians during the morning session of the House of Assembly suggesting that the Christie administration had made headway on the matter.
He said: “The matter of the alleged surveillance and the taping of conversations of Bahamians by the United States’ agencies in the Bahamas has been the subject of public interest for some time.
“The Bahamas government has made inquiries on this matter and received the following answer from the United States’ State Department by way of an oral communication on Jan. 26.
“The U.S. will – going forward – use the lawful authority that was mutually agreed between the two countries to obtain surveillance information for drug interdiction and criminal activities.”
Earlier this month, Mitchell confirmed that the government had received assurances from the U.S. that consideration would be given to America’s oversees telephone-monitoring procedures relating to the Bahamas.
In May 2014, reports that the U.S. was monitoring mobile phone calls in the Bahamas emerged in an article posted on website Firstlook.org. The report alleged that the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA) was “secretly intercepting, recording and archiving” the audio of every cellphone conversation in the Bahamas and storing these calls for up to 30 days.
The information was reportedly in a series of documents leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who was granted a year’s asylum in Russia in June 2013 after being sought by his native America.
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