Was US spying on Diana? 'Rubbish' says CIA

WASHINGTON - Were US government spies bugging Princess Diana's telephone on the night she died? If so, which agency actually did the deed is very much a mystery.

A long-awaited British police report, due on Thursday, is expected to divulge new details surrounding the high-speed Paris car crash that killed 36-year-old Diana, her lover Dodi Fayed, 42, and their driver, Henri Paul, on Aug. 31, 1997.

British newspapers, citing leaks from the Scotland Yard inquiry, have reported that American spies monitored the phone in Diana's Ritz Paris hotel room without the knowledge of their British counterparts.

That stirred media speculation in the United States about which agency might have been the culprit.

A CBS News report cited long-circulating rumors that Diana had come to the attention of the CIA because of her high-profile activism against land mines.

"Rubbish," a CIA spokesman responded today.

The National Security Agency, recently the centre of controversy because of its domestic spying programme, took the rare step of stating that it did not "target" Diana.

The agency, which specialises in electronic surveillance and code-breaking, did acknowledge in a statement that it has 39 intelligence documents on file which refer to the princess. But the NSA added: "She was never the communicant."

One news report suggested the spying was conducted at the hands of the US Secret Service, a law enforcement agency that protects the president and vice president and investigates counterfeiting.

"They probably should have said 'intelligence' service," said a Secret Service spokesman who denied any complicity by the federal police agency.

The office of US intelligence chief John Negroponte, who oversees the 16 agencies of America's intelligence community, declined to comment, saying Diana's death occurred long before post-September 11 reforms created Negroponte's post in 2004.

- REUTERS

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