17 June 2013, 13:18

New leak from Snowden: UK eavesdropped on diplomats’ phones, emails at G20 summit meetings

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Spying on foreign diplomats’ phones and emails during international conferences held in the UK is a usual practice for the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ, according to a report published in the British Guardian. The revelation made thanks to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who provided the newspaper with more than half a dozen internal government documents proving the allegation, could have serious diplomatic consequences, a British expert is convinced.

The publication was issued just hours before the UK was due to host the G8 summit, a meeting of top-level representatives of eight nations, namely Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the US and the UK, in Lough Erne, a small Northern Irish resort town.

The documents indicate that GCHQ conducted a series of intelligence operations targeted at the Russian delegation headed by President Dmitry Medvedev at the 2009 G20 summit in London, the Turkish delegation at the same summit and the delegation of the South African foreign ministry.

The shocking report will certainly add awkwardness to the G8 scheduled meetings.

"The diplomatic fallout from this could be considerable," said British academic Richard J. Aldrich, expert in cyber security, liberty and privacy and the author of “GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency” published in 2010.

It remains unknown how Edward Snowden received access to top-secret intelligence documents, many of which were posted to the Guardian’s website. The newspaper mentions that the papers were taken from some internal network shared by the NSA and GCHQ. Aldrich said it could possibly be true, as the two agencies have been collaborating in certain areas very closely.

A portion of documents has not been posted to the newspaper’s website, but the Guardian has offered some details of them. One of the documents, for example, boast of GCHQ's tapping into smartphones used widely by diplomats at the G20 meetings last year. Yet another concerns an Internet café set up especially for delegates of the G20 meetings which was “able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished.”

US spied on Dmitry Medvedev at 2009 G20 summit 

As Britain prepares to host the G8 summit, the documents uncovered by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed that back in 2009 US spies intercepted top-secret communication of then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to London.

The shocking news has been broken by The Guardian which has seen the documents. It also revealed that a UK intelligence agency, GCHQ, monitored foreign politicians and intercepted their emails during the 2009 G20 summit held in the British capital. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by UK intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The 39th G8 summit is scheduled to start on Monday in the small Northern Irish resort town of Lough Erne with all the nations who were present at the 2009 London meeting attending.

According to the leaked documents viewed by the British paper, the details of the intercept of Medvedev’s communications were set out in a briefing prepared by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The document was drafted in August 2009, four months after the Russian president attended the London G20 summit.

In the wake of the scandalous leak of NSA documents, US officials have been defending massive surveillance tactics stressing that they were crucial in the fight against terrorism. However, the recent revelations about the actions of the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) suggests this was simply a case of espionage.

During the London summit, GCHQ used what one document described as "ground-breaking intelligence capabilities" to intercept the communications of the foreign delegations. The spy agency set up internet cafes where they used an email interception program and key-logging software to monitor delegates' use of computers. The security of delegates’ BlackBerrys had been penetrated to enable GCHQ see their messages and phone calls.

Among other targets of surveillance at the summit was the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party.

Voice of Russia, CBS News, RT

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