UK/US spy agencies targeted heads of state at London G20 meeting

NSA/GCHQ listening station in Menwith HillBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
British and American intelligence agencies targeted the communications of heads of state and other senior officials during a G20 summit held in London in 2009, according to documents. The summit was hosted by the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and was attended by delegates from 20 major world economies, including then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was specifically targeted in the spy operation. British newspaper The Guardian, which published the information, said that delegates had their personal computers and cellular telephones monitored during a joint effort by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The two agencies, which are tasked with intercepting communications signals on behalf of their respective governments, maintain a jointly administered listening base inside the Royal Air Force station in Menwith Hill near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. According to one of the documents, entitled “Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London —Intercept at Menwith Hill station”, the listening facility was utilized to spy on the communications of the Russian President during his stay in London. The targeting began as soon as President Medvedev and the Russian delegation arrived in the British capital on April 1, and continued for several days. The top-secret document, which was shared between British, American, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand intelligence services, noted “a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted” through satellite links from the Russian embassy in London. Another set of documents, also published by The Guardian, indicate that some G20 summit delegates were “tricked into using Internet cafes [that] had been set up by British intelligence agencies” in order to intercept their email communications. The documents also state that the joint NSA/GCHQ operation targeted the BlackBerry telephones of dozens of delegates, including those of Turkey’s Minister of Finance, Mehmet Şimşek, and up to 15 other “junior ministers and officials” in the Turkish delegation. The documents, all of which are classified as “top secret”, were given to The Guardian by American whistleblower Edward Snowden. Earlier this month, Snowden, a former technical assistant for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), disclosed the existence of PRISM, a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency.

7 Responses to UK/US spy agencies targeted heads of state at London G20 meeting

  1. Paul says:

    Personally, I’d be very disappointed if GCHQ wasn’t doing this – isn’t that what its remit is?

  2. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Thankyou for that sensible observation Paul – pity the Americans couldn’t apply the same logic when it comes to the N.S.A !!!!

  3. Paul says:

    Excellent reply Peter. I’ll bet Americans with our interest laughed when GCHQ’s Katherine Gun blew the whistle in early 2003 about attempts to change diplomatic feelings on the invasion of Iraq to find the non-existant WMDs……now its our turn with the NSA’s Edward Snowden.

    It all makes for an interesting life I find.

  4. Joe says:

    Peter and Paul….. (no biblical connotations here…)
    Here in US we are still citizens and not subjects like some other people. So yes we do question things.
    May you live in interesting times gentleman.

  5. Pete says:

    In view of GCHQ’s 2009 G-20 performance…

    If I were a fly on the wall at GCHQ now I’d wonder if that organisation is carrying out a bugging program for the G8 summit ending today at Lough Erne, in Britain’s Northern Ireland?

    Has GCHQ been asked to remove the more intrusive and detectable bugging practices at international conferences for a while?

  6. Paul says:


    I shudder from using a hosted board for making personal comments; I see it as surly and rude but in your case I make an exception. [I apologise to JF for stating this on his board].

    Thank you for your unwanted and somewhat inaccurate assessment of Peter’s and mine national status. If US ‘Citizens’ are so adept at questioning things how come successive US governments ruin everything they touch?

    They interfered with the Palestinian/Israeli settlement and formation in 1947, Suez 1956 and the subsequent disolution of our Empire. US interference led to the mess in the Middle East that exists today and the US just can’t step back. Have you ever wondered why the US isn’t liked in the Middle East – and lots of other places?

    You’d think that at least a few of your citizens would recognise what a pathetic job your government has made of things and try to change the national stance, but that’s not the case. The majority are so brainwashed with national self-importance they cannot recognise their government isn’t capable of running a bath correctly.

    You even state an incorrectly attributed curse from a faux pas originally made by Robert F Kennedy.

    Thank heavens for our British Sovereign because if that changed we’d end up with a string of useless ‘Presidents’ and a government that’s less fit for purpose than the clowns we get in Parliament every five years.

  7. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Somewhere round here is a well used hard hat and flack jacket that I can lend you if you need it Paul !!

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