UK ‘spied’ on SA G20 delegates

2013-06-17 09:17

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London – Documents leaked by US former spy Edward Snowden appeared to show Britain spied on Group of 20 (G20) delegates during meetings in London back in 2009.

Among the officials targeted were delegates from Nato ally Turkey and from South Africa, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported today.

Britain used “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to monitor communications between officials at the two meetings in April and September of 2009, the paper reported.

The revelations are likely to be an embarrassment to Britain, which is hosting the two-day Group of Eight (G8) summit in Northern Ireland from today.

The paper cited documents it had seen concerning the work of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, which handles signals intelligence.

According to the files, British spies tricked delegates into using specially prepared internet cafes. Those cafes allowed the spies to intercept communications, and monitor email messages and phone calls through delegates’ BlackBerry devices.

Government Communications Headquarters was also able to track when delegates were contacting each other and the agency targeted certain officials, including the Turkish finance minister, according to documents shown to the newspaper.

They also singled out South African computers for special attention, according to one document.

The paper also said that Government Communications Headquarters received reports from a US National Security Agency attempt to listen in as then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev made a call via satellite to Moscow.

The documents suggest that orders to gather intelligence on delegates came from a senior level within the government of then prime minister Gordon Brown, said The Guardian.

Two documents explicitly mention information being passed on to ministers.

Snowden is hiding in Hong Kong and the US has launched a criminal investigation after the former CIA technical assistant blew the lid on the National Security Agency’s vast electronic surveillance operation.

Leaders from the G8 nations meet in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, today for two days of talks on issues including the Syrian crisis, tax collection and free trade.

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