Russia 'spied' on G20 countries

2013-10-29 17:26
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Rome - Russia tried to spy on other Group of 20 (G20) countries during a summit it hosted in Saint Petersburg last month, Italian newspapers reported on Tuesday.

The news follows revelations in the past week of widespread US surveillance in Europe, allegedly by intercepting the phone calls of millions of citizens in France, Italy and Spain as well as tapping into the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At the end of the G20 meeting on 5-6 September, the Russian hosts gave delegations complimentary USB computer sticks and mobile phone chargers, Corriere della Sera and La Stampa dailies reported.

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy was surprised by the gift and asked security staff to check the gadgets. Preliminary tests, conducted with the help of German intelligence services, were "positive," Corriere della Sera said.

Experts concluded that "the USB sticks and the recharge cables are suitable for undercover detection of computer data and mobile phones," the newspaper wrote.

It quoted European Union diplomatic sources as saying that national authorities were conducting more tests and that no formal act of protest would be launched against Russia until those tests are concluded.

Corriere della Sera also said it was not clear whether any delegation member actually used the suspected bugging devices.

Van Rompuy's office said it would not comment on the issue, as did a spokesbusiness for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who was also present at the St Petersburg talks.

Read more on:    g20  |  russia  |  espionage

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