Western spy agencies tapped major undersea fiber optic cable

SEA-ME-WE 3 networkBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Information obtained by a major German newspaper appears to show that an alliance of Western and Asian intelligence agencies has managed to tap into one of the world’s major undersea telecommunications cables, which facilitates worldwide communication between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest broadsheet newspaper, claimed on Wednesday that Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been leading the ambitious interception effort. The GCHQ is Britain’s signals intelligence agency, tasked by the British government with intercepting communications from around the world. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the effort is supported by the National Security Agency (NSA), which is GCHQ’s American equivalent. The paper cited American defector Edward Snowden as the source of the information. Snowden was a technical contractor for the NSA before he defected to Russia this past summer, where he has now been offered political asylum. The cable, codenamed SEA-ME-WE-3, is considered one of the world’s primary undersea fiber optic conduit. Completed in 2000, it is the longest fiber optic cable installation in the world. It runs from the northern German coast to the Straits of Gibraltar, and from there to Suez, Djibouti and Singapore, before reaching Japan and Australia. It serves as one of the world’s main communications networks that link Asia with the Middle East and Europe. It is owned by an international consortium of telecommunications companies led by France Telecom, China Telecom, British Telecom, Australia’s Telstra Corporation, Singapore’s SingTel, and other corporations from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Based on the initial revelation by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Australian media revealed on Wednesday that Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) also participates in the undersea cable interception operation, sharing massive amounts of intercepted data with its British and American counterparts. Australian newspaper The Age said that the Australian interception activity is facilitated with the help of the Security and Intelligence Division of Singapore’s Ministry of Defense. The latter has physical access SEA-ME-WE-3 at the Tuas industrial zone in western Singapore, which is one of the primary SEA-ME-WE-3 landing points.

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