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UK, US Intel Services Spied on Cellular Activity Onboard Air France Planes

© AFP 2022 / STEPHANE DE SAKUTINAir France planes are parked on the tarmac of Charles de Gaulle airport on September 24, 2014 in Roissy during an Air France pilots strike
Air France planes are parked on the tarmac of Charles de Gaulle airport on September 24, 2014 in Roissy during an Air France pilots strike - Sputnik International
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Classified documents made public by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) developed and used special programs for monitoring Internet communications onboard French aircraft, including Air France, French media reported.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The internal documents of the two services showed that the secret antennae on the Earth could intercept the signal transmitted via satellites if the telephone using the signal was at the altitude of 10,000 feet, Le Monde newspaper reported.

According to the newspaper, which collaborated with The Intercept website that received a trove of secret documents from Snowden, simply switching on the phone was enough for the intelligence agencies to track it.

NSA or GCHQ would then be able, reportedly, to cross-reference the data with the list of the passengers and even switch off the phone remotely to receive access codes after the device was rebooted.

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According to the newspaper, Air France flights were chosen because the CIA had classified them as potential terrorist targets, along with Air Mexico.

The intelligent services allegedly intercepted calls on a number of commercial flights, including Russia's Aeroflot's Nice-Moscow flight on May 20, 2011.

The GCHQ reportedly noted that Aeroflot organized a specific system for GSM connections on its aircraft that could be used for legal intercept.

Snowden is currently residing in Russia, where he was granted asylum after fleeing the United States, following his publication of documents on US global surveillance programs.

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