Pope Francis
Pope Francis (Reuters)

US secret services allegedly monitored the phone calls of the former Pope, Benedict XVI.

Italian magazine Weekly Panorama claims that among the 46 million phone calls hoovered up by by the NSA in December 2012 and January 2013 were communications to and from the Vatican.

The NSA allegedly eavesdropped on cardinals before the conclave in March 2013 to elect the new Pope, including calls between them and Cardinal Bergoglio who was elected and chose the name Pope Francis.

A Vatican spokesman said: Vatican had nothing to say to the claims of eavesdropping story "as far as we know".

"In any case, we have no concerns about the matter," a spokesman told IBTimes UK.

Italian weekly l'Espresso reported in June on NSA espionage activities against the Italian government. Millions of communications between Italian citizens have been targeted by Prism, the US data gathering operation revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Enrico Letta, prime minister of Italy, said that US secretary of State John Kerry had reassured him that the US administration had "put the issue under review".

A fresh report by l'Espresso highlighted a programme called Tempora, which involves the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ  spying on phone calls, emails and internet traffic in Italy passing through three submarine fibre optic terminals in Italy called SeaMeWe3 (Mazara del Vallo), SeaMeWe4 and Fea (Palermo).

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