LONDON (CNN) — Britain’s electronic intelligence agency monitored delegates’ phones and tried to capture their passwords during an economic summit held there in 2009, the Guardian newspaper reported Sunday.
The targets included British allies such as Turkey and South Africa, the newspaper reported. The Guardian cited documents provided by Edward Snowden, the American computer analyst now spilling secrets of the U.S. intelligence community.
The latest report was published on the eve of another economic summit hosted by the British government — the Group of Eight economic summit in Northern Ireland. According to the newspaper, the documents show that the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ used “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept calls made by members of the larger G-20 conference delegations at meetings in London.
Analysts received round-the-clock summaries of calls that were being made, and GCHQ set up Internet cafes for delegates in hopes of intercepting e-mails and capturing keystrokes, the Guardian reported. One briefing slide explained that would give intelligence agencies the ability to read delegates’ e-mails “before/as they do,” providing “sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished.”
GCHQ is Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, the highly secretive U.S. communications intelligence service. The Guardian reported that the NSA had attempted to eavesdrop on then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the conference as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow and briefed its British counterparts on the effects.
Snowden, 29, worked for the NSA through a private contractor firm until May, when he decamped to Hong Kong. He went public a week ago as the source of articles by the Guardian and The Washington Post, saying the NSA’s efforts posed “an existential threat to democracy.”
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