According to sources close to Fréttablaðið, the Ministry of Justice is supposedly unhappy with how the US embassy has responded to complaints that they are engaging in “spying” on people living in the neighbourhood around the embassy.
As was reported last month, the US embassy has engaged in what is known as a Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU), essentially extending security surveillance from beyond the building of the embassy itself and into the neighbourhood around it. Part of this allegedly included plain-clothes Securitas employees rooting through the garbage of people living on the same street as the embassy.
US Ambassador Luis E. Arreaga-Rodas has emphasised in the Icelandic media that the embassy is not “spying” on Icelandic citizens; rather, they have security who watch out for suspicious behaviour near or around the embassy, and keep surveillance on individuals exhibiting said behaviour. He said that these operations were not initiated after 9/11, as had been contended, but rather after the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in 1998.
The Ministry of Justice requested a meeting with state police, asking if they were aware of this surveillance, and if they had cooperated with US authorities, possibly without informing the Icelandic government. According to sources speaking to Fréttablaðið, the ministry was not pleased with how the embassy has responded to the complaints made against them.
The ministry is expected to make an official response soon.
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