NSA leaked documents reveal U.S. spied on Russian president

Hours after President Obama met with then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, U.S. spies reportedly intercepted top-secret communications between Medvedev and his delegation.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked NSA documents to the press. Screengrab via The Guardian

In addition to targeting suspected terrorists, it appears the National Security Agency also spent time spying on foreign heads of state.

A leaked document from the explosive NSA document deluge shows that the U.S. government was spying on former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the London G20 summit in 2009, according to the Guardian.

Apparently, the NSA document shows that U.S. spies got their hands on top-secret communications between Medvedev and his delegation and then shared the information with government officials from the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The NSA document, titled "Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London -- Intercept at Menwith Hill station," says that agency believes it possibly discovered "a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted."

According to the Guardian, the document intercept came just hours after Medvedev met with President Obama at the summit and the two world leaders talked about working together on world issues, like nuclear disarmament.

The NSA is one of the biggest surveillance and eavesdropping agencies in the U.S. and was where former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden was working when he decided to leak some of the agency's top-secret documents to the press last week.

While much of the news about the leak has centered around the NSA spying on people via tech companies and wireless carriers, the agency also apparently spied on foreign governments in its classified surveillance program called PRISM. Snowden said last week that the U.S. government has also hacked into computers in both Hong Kong and China for years.

The NSA has said that the reason it carried out the secretive eavesdropping program was to track down foreign terrorists. In an unclassified document that circulated on Saturday, the U.S. government said that such surveillance has allowed officials to thwart terrorist plots in the U.S. and in more than 20 other countries.