The National Security Agency and its Canadian counterpart carried out spying operations during the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto, according to a new report.
CBC News reported Wednesday that the NSA, which "closely coordinated" operations with the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CESC), used the American embassy in Ottawa as a command post for the six-day spying operation, which lasted while President Obama and 25 other heads of state were on Canadian soil.
A spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "We do not comment on operational matters related to national security" when reached late Wednesday by the Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for the CSEC said they could not comment on the operations of Canada or its allies.
"Under the law, CSEC does not target Canadians anywhere or any person in Canada through its foreign intelligence activities," the spokeswoman, Lauri Sullivan, said. "CSEC cannot ask our international partners to act in a way that circumvents Canadian laws."
The report is based on documents purportedly leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and does not specify targets of the operation. However, the report does cite a leaked document listing the summit's main agenda items and stating the agency's mandate as "providing support to policymakers."
The documents also note, "The intelligence community assesses there is no specific, credible information that Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists are targeting" the summit.
A Canadian civil liberties group, OpenMedia.ca, quickly objected. "It's ... clear this spying was aimed at supporting U.S. policy goals during a highly contentious summit," executive director Steve Anderson said in a statement to the AP. "This is sure to cause huge damage to Canada's relationships with our other G-20 partners."
The report is not the first time that the NSA and the CSEC have been accused of carrying out espionage during a G20 summit. In June, the Guardian reported that both agencies, along with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) accessed the phone calls and emails of diplomats attending the 2009 G20 summit, held in London.
Both agencies are members of the Five Eyes surveillance partnership, established in 1946 with sister agencies in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.