Chicago-based law firm Mayer Brown may have found itself snared by the National Security Agency’s wide-reaching surveillance program.
The New York Times reports an American law firm representing a foreign government in trade disputes was monitored by the spy agency, possibly including “information covered by attorney-client privilege.”
Though Mayer Brown was not identified by name in the document, the Times’ investigation indicates the Chicago firm may have been involved:
The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. It reports that the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the American law firm, and offered to share the information. The Australians told officials at an N.S.A. liaison office in Canberra, Australia, that information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included in the intelligence gathering, according to the document, a monthly bulletin from the Canberra office. The law firm was not identified, but Mayer Brown, a Chicago-based firm with a global practice, was then advising the Indonesian government on trade issues.
The N.S.A. declined to comment, and a lawyer for Mayer Brown says he does not have any evidence of snooping.
The information comes from a top-secret document culled from the massive collection provided by whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden.