Britain spied on foreign delegations at G20 summits in 2009, paper reports
Foreign officials who took part in G20 meetings in London had their computers monitored and calls intercepted
David Cameron: likely to come under pressure at today’s G8 Summit over Guardian newspaper revelations about British spying activities four years ago. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett
British prime minister David Cameron will face embarrassing questions on the opening day of the G8 summit today after reports that British spies intercepted the emails and phone calls of foreign delegations taking part in two G20 summits in London in 2009.
The Guardian newspaper reported last night that foreign politicians and officials who took part in the meetings had their computers monitored and calls intercepted. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes set up by British intelligence agencies to read their emails, the paper reported.
It said the evidence was contained in documents, classified as top secret, which outlined techniques used by British spy agencies to gain negotiating advantage during the G20 meetings in April and September 2009.
Fake internet cafes
These included setting up internet cafes where they used an email-interception programme and key logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers and penetrating security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their emails and phone calls.
The documents set out how a team of 45 analysts7 was supplied with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit, the paper reported. The targets included delegations from British allies such as Turkey and South Africa.
British intelligence also received reports on an attempt by the National Security Agency in the US to eavesdrop on Russian leader Dmitri Medvedev, as his calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.
According to last night’s report, the documents suggest the operation was sanctioned at a senior level in the government of then prime minister Gordon Brown, and that intelligence was passed to British ministers.
One document cited by the Guardian refers to a tactic which was “used a lot in recent UK conferences, eg G20”. It said the tactic was defined in an internal glossary as “active collection against an email account that requires mail messages without removing them from the remote server”. A Powerpoint slide, the paper claimed, explained this meant “reading people’s email before/as they do”.
The document also refers to the British intelligence agencies GCHQ and MI6 setting up internet cafes which “were able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished”. This appeared to be a reference to acquiring delegates’ online login details, according to the Guardian.
A “detailed report” records the efforts of the NSA’s intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow.