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US denies it has NSA post in Austria

VIENNA — Vienna is a fabled city for spying — and now its cloak-and-dagger legend has a 21st-century twist.

A stately villa in a leafy district of the Austrian capital is at the center of a ruckus over whether the NSA is snooping on the city’s residents, with allegations flying that the building serves as a sophisticated US intelligence listening post.

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Both the United States and Austrian governments deny reports claiming to expose a major surveillance operation by the National Security Agency. The US Embassy says the building is an ‘‘Open Source Center’’ evaluating information freely available in newspapers and on the Internet. Such centers are run by the CIA.

Many are skeptical in a country shocked by revelations by Edward Snowden that the NSA has been able to spy on the online activities of millions of people around the world.

Austrians question the need for any US intelligence gathering in their capital, including open source centers.

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