Edward Snowden’s leaked documents have brought a lot of surprises. But the news hit a little close to home for lawyers on Feb. 15 when The New York Times reported that communications between an American law firm and its foreign-government client had been intercepted in early 2013 and possibly disclosed to the functional equivalent of the opposing party.

The article, “Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm,” said that a top-secret National Security Agency bulletin from February 2013 showed that the Australian Signals Directorate (the NSA’s Australian counterpart) monitored communications between Indonesian officials and their American law firm (believed to be Mayer Brown, which was representing the Indonesian government in trade disputes with the United States). The Australians then offered to share the captured communications with the NSA, even though “information covered by the attorney-client privilege may be included.” The NSA “declined to answer” whether any information was handed off to U.S. trade officials or negotiators, according to the article.

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