Edward Snowden

Something tells me the State Department staff are not Edward Snowden fans. The first set of Guardian leaks came right before the Sino-American summit on cybersecurity where the United States was preparing to take a firm line with China regarding alleged cyber-attacks. Now the Guardian is reporting that documents disclosed by Snowden reveal that British and American intelligence services spied on other countries at the G20 summit in London in 2009  which comes as Britain hosts the 39th G8 summit beginning today.

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic…

The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

The NSA, for its part, took a keen interest in the communications of then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The NSA briefed Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand on the operation.

American spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal. The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s biggest surveillance and eavesdropping organisation, and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered “a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted”.

That’s going to be an awkward breakfast.

Though it is unlikely that none of the targeted countries were unaware that they would be under surveillance, the lengths that the British in particular went to such as setting up fake internet cafes to monitor the communications of diplomats seem over the top. Targeting Turkey and South Africa also raised concerns given the previous and perhaps current assumption that they were allied countries. Would Apartheid South Africa have been outside the circle of trust?

In any case it seems the Anglo-American intelligence sharing alliance on other countries excludes South Africa but includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. More bad news for Kim Dotcom.