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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


March 20, 2003

'Someone' is Bugging the EU

'French anger at entente vitriole' (3/20/03 - The Times [London])

The European Union has uncovered a bugging operation aimed at 6 of its 15 member countries, just as it is about to meet about the divisive (and imminent) American-led invasion of Iraq.

Sophisticated listening devices were found in its Brussels headquarters, on lines belonging to six member states between the switchboard and the national delegation rooms in the eight-year-old council building, which is home to regular ministerial and summit sessions, as well as the base of Javier Solana, the EU Foreign Policy chief. The offices of the French, German, British, Austrian and Spanish delegations were all targeted.

The bugs were found late last month. The Union had hoped to keep the investigation secret, at least until it was completed, but the findings were disclosed today by the French newspaper, Le Figaro. The newspaper quoted Belgian police as identifying the devices as American, but the Belgian police later declined to comment on that report. European Union officials said they could not confirm the origin of the devices.

The devices were uncovered in a routine security sweep by Union security services. According to the statement, officials discovered an "anomaly in an internal telephone line" and detected the presence of "an unknown electronic device linked to the telephone system." It continued, "A small number of similar devices were found immediately afterwards in other locations in the building." ...No devices were found on the phones at the organization's sensitive military wing, which is located in the same building

Sven-Olaf Petersson, the Swedish EU Ambassador, said: "They were very sophisticated installations, which only a few intelligence services are able to install.... There are many indications that they were installed with the building (in) 1994-95."

This is the first time in the building's history that a spy operation has been uncovered, officials said. Union officials said the devices could have been in place for some time, perhaps years.

[Read the source...]

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