English
11.10.2013

Hundreds gather at purported NSA mansion in Vienna

A well guarded house in Vienna that the magazine Format claims is an NSA listening post is still the subject of much attention. On Sunday, politicians and hundreds of private citizens gathered in front of the mansion.

A hermetically sealed mansion in the west of Vienna that is owned by the USA according to Format has spurred heated discussion. After the Office for the Protection of the Constitution denied the existence of an NSA listening post in the middle of Vienna, also refuting claims by the responsible agencies in the Ministry of the Interior, an incident with a blogger caused renewed discussion. As the blogger described in detail, he was stopped by a police officer in front of the house because he had taken a picture, and was forced to show the police officer his identification.

Roughly 200 participants
On Sunday, around 200 people set out to take their own pictures of the house after an invitation was posted on Facebook. Green National Council representative Peter Pilz, who took part in the excursion, criticized the authorities: “The police officers are breaking the law when they protect the activities of a foreign intelligence service. It is absolutely clear that that is illegal.” According to the property register excerpt, which Pilz brought with him, the mansion has been owned privately by the American embassy since 1971, and is not under diplomatic protection.

Pilz also referred to a list from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which has been informed of four buildings requiring protection. The mansion in question is not on the list. “It has not yet been proven that the building is actually being used by the NSA. But I am certain that the building is being used by the US intelligence services,” Pilz said. He said that he would be calling a Security Council meeting on Monday: “There are many questions that need to be answered.”

Participants told futurezone that everything was peaceful during the event. Despite a significant police presence, the people on the “excursion” took pictures of the mansion and of themselves in front of the mansion, posting them immediately on social networking platforms. Unlike as described in the report by the bicyclist who wanted to take pictures a few days ago, the police did not interfere. In addition to private citizens and politicians, television stations were also on site.

The event got started on Facebook. There, PR consultant Rudi Fußi and Green state parliament representative Michel Reimon invited people to participate in a “pleasant Sunday stroll” and a “photo excursion to the NSA mansion” on Saturday. It was expressly noted that it is not a demonstration, but a private walk for fans of architectural photography. On Saturday evening, Reimon also announced on Facebook that the excursion would be taking place under the personal patronage of Green National Council representative Peter Pilz, who is a member of the National Security Council. It was again noted that the event is not a demonstration or event of the Green party, but a “private walk.”

While people in Vienna took a look for themselves, not a day goes by without the revelation of new details about the NSA’s spying methods. After information was leaked on Thursday that US and British intelligence services can crack encrypted information like bank data and medical information, a report in the German magazine Spiegel claims that systems previously thought to be secure like the BlackBerry mail system are also no problem for the NSA.