LONDON — America’s super secret eavesdropping agency said Tuesday it had never targeted Princess Diana’s telephone conversations for monitoring.
The statement by the National Security Agency comes amid media reports in London about secret recordings of Diana’s telephone communications that apparently surfaced during the British investigation into her 1997 death in a Paris car crash.
Diana, 36, her friend Dodi Fayed, 42, and the driver of their car died in the Aug. 31, 1997 crash. An investigation later concluded that the driver, Henri Paul, had been drinking and was driving at a high speed.
An official British report into the crash, to be published Thursday, is expected to find her death was an accident, the London Observer reported over the weekend.
The newspaper also reported that U.S. authorities had bugged Diana’s phone without the approval of their British counterparts on the night of her death. It said U.S. officials assured British officials the secretly recorded conversations shed no new light on her death.
In a statement Tuesday, the National Security Agency said it had 39 classified documents containing references to Diana but had never targeted her for monitoring. Those documents were previously released in response to a Freedom of Information Request in 1998, the agency noted.
“As NSA has made clear in the past, the 39 NSA-originated and NSA-controlled documents referenced in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request in 1998 only contained references to the princess and she was never the communicant,” said agency spokesman Don Weber. “NSA did not target Princess Diana’s communications. Furthermore, NSA has cooperated with the investigations into this tragic incident to the full extent of the law.”
U.S. officials deny allegations
On Monday, a Homeland Security official told NBC News that the Secret Service never gathered intelligence information on Diana.
“The Secret Service had nothing to do with it,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Separately, a former senior U.S. intelligence official said Diana was never targeted for intelligence gathering in any way. But, the former official said, her voice may have been picked up while others were targeted. Even so, he said that as far as he knows, there were no intercepts of her in Paris the night she died, contrary to British reports.
He also confirmed that there were, indeed, many references to her in the National Security Agency database, some of them innocuous, including references by targets overseas to romantic liaisons with people who the targets thought looked like Diana.
Report due on Thursday
The official British report into the crash, by former Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens, also will confirm claims that Paul was drunk and in the pay of the French intelligence services, the Observer newspaper reported.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed Paul was not drinking that night, contending the blood samples were swapped with blood from someone else who was drunk.
A former judge presiding over the British inquest into Diana’s death said this past week that preliminary hearings would be held in public and not in private, as had been planned, after a protest from Fayed’s father, Mohammed, who owns Harrods department store.
The inquest, convened and then swiftly adjourned in 2004, is due to formally resume next year. Preliminary hearings will be held Jan. 8 and 9 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Robert Windrem and Pete Williams of NBC News, along with The Associated Press, contributed to this report.