US bugged UN nuclear chief's phones in ouster bid

[JURIST] The Bush administration has bugged the communications of UN International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei in an effort to find evidence that could be used to oust him from his position and replace him with someone more to Washington's liking, according to three White House officials cited in a story in Sunday's Washington Post. The Egyptian diplomat, who formerly taught international law at New York University, disagreed with the US line on Iraq and has been accused of being "soft" on Iran. The US NSA and CIA security agencies have neither confirmed nor denied the reports. An IAEA spokesman said that his agency has traditionally assumed that this type of monitoring takes place, although it disapproves of it. Foreign surveillance of UN and diplomatic facilities is prohibited by the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (article 2 section 3 of which reads: "The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action.") and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Earlier this year (as previously reported in JURIST's Paper Chase), British MP Clare Short said the UK government had bugged UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's communications in the run-up to the Iraq war, and that she had seen transcripts. To this point Washington has approached several international figures to assess their interest in the IAEA directorship, but none - most notably, perhaps, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer - has been interested in challenging ElBaradei. The Washington Post is a registration site, but a reprint of the Post article is here.

 

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