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Israeli PM condemns US and UK spying on predecessor as ‘unacceptable’ | World news | theguardian.com

Israeli PM condemns US and UK spying on predecessor as ‘unacceptable’ | World news | theguardian.com.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AP

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has broken his silence over revelations that British and US spy agencies had targeted one of his predecessors, condemning the activities as “unacceptable”.

Papers leaked by Edward Snowden, and published by the Guardian on Friday, revealed that GCHQ in association with the National Security Agency had targeted an email address used by the Israeli prime minister when Ehud Olmert was in office.

Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.

“I have asked for an examination of the matter,” Netanyahu told members of his ruling Likud Party at a meeting of the parliamentary faction in the Knesset on Monday. “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things that are prohibited and that are unacceptable to us.”

Netanyahu had pointedly avoided addressing the growing storm at a meeting of the Israeli cabinet the previous day, prompting widespread media comment in Israel that he was attempting to stifle discussion on the embarrassing revelations about the behaviour of Israel’s closest strategic ally.

Israel has given undertakings not to spy on the United States since the arrest and life imprisonment of US naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard in 1987 for spying on behalf of Israel.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, as well as senior retired US security officials, have unsuccessfully petitioned successive presidents to release Pollard, who has served a longer sentence than any other spy in the US. Although Netanyahu repeated his claim on Monday that the two matters should not be connected, he pointedly met with Pollard’s wife Esther in Jerusalem and posted a video of their handshake on his YouTube channel in response to a new groundswell of protest demanding Pollard’s immediate release in light of the latest revelations.

“I have met with Esther Pollard and updated her on our ceaseless efforts to liberate Jonathan. He should have been released long ago. I think that’s understood by everyone here, and also understood by large and growing sectors in the United States,” said Netanyahu.

Israel and the US are locked in sensitive diplomatic manoeuvring around the peace talks with the Palestinians. This new issue could not have arisen at a worse time.

Several Israeli ministers had already broken ranks and protested publicly about NSA surveillance. Israeli anger at the US was exacerbated by a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s largest-selling newspaper, that a US marine rented an apartment in June 2009 directly opposite the private home of Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and military chief of staff who was then Israel’s defence minister.

“Israeli intelligence detected sizeable amounts of electronic equipment delivered to the US-rented apartment,” Yedioth reported, together with diagrams of the sophisticated laser spying devices that might have been used to eavesdrop on Barak’s private conversations via the vibrations of the windows of his home.

Strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz and other officials said the NSA and GCHQ would have learned little of value from the email addresses and phone lines they apparently intercepted, which were publicly listed contact points and not used for the transmission of sensitive information.

Oved Yehezkel, a former military intelligence officer who was cabinet secretary to then prime minister Olmert, said it was assumed that communications between Israeli leaders were being monitored by their closest friends in Washington. “Of course we knew. Anyone who thinks that friends and allies don’t spy on each other should re-read John le Carré,” Yehezkel said.

 

GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief | UK news | The Guardian

GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief | UK news | The Guardian.

Edward Snowden composite with GCHQ and fibre optics

The details of GCHQ and NSA targets are the latest revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Photograph: Guardian

British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list ofsurveillance targets that included the EU’s competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal.

The papers show GCHQ, in collaboration with America’s National Security Agency (NSA), was targeting organisations such as the United Nations development programme, the UN’s children’s charity Unicef andMédecins du Monde, a French organisation that provides doctors and medical volunteers to conflict zones. The head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also appears in the documents, along with text messages he sent to colleagues.

The latest disclosures will add to Washington’s embarrassment after the heavy criticism of the NSA when it emerged that it had been tapping the mobile phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the “Israeli prime minister”. Ehud Olmert was in office at the time.

Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.

Prominent names that appear in the GCHQ documents include Joaquín Almunia, a Spaniard who is vice-president of the European commissionwith responsibility for competition policy.

Britain’s targeting of Germany may also prove awkward for the prime minister, David Cameron: in October, he endorsed an EU statementcondemning NSA spying on world leaders, including Merkel.

They have both been in Brussels, attending an EU summit that concludes on Friday.

The names and details are the latest revelations to come from documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They provoked a furious reaction from the European commission, Almunia and others on the target lists.

• The commission said the disclosures “are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation. This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states.” Almunia said he was “very upset” to discover his name was on GCHQdocuments.

• Leigh Daynes, UK executive director of Médecins du Monde, said he was “bewildered by these extraordinary allegations of secret surveillance. Our doctors, nurses and midwives are not a threat to national security. There is absolutely no reason for our operations to be secretly monitored.”

• Another target, Nicolas Imboden, the head of an NGO that provides help to African countries, said the spying on him was “clearly economic espionage and politically motivated”.

• Human Rights Watch, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch condemned the targeting.

• Labour said the committee that oversees GCHQ should be given extra powers.

The disclosures reflect the breadth of targets sought by the agencies, which goes far beyond the desire to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and criminals, or diplomats and officials from hostile countries. Asked about this activity, a spokesman for GCHQ said it was “longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”, but the official maintained the agency “takes its obligations under the law very seriously”.

The new information is published after a joint investigation by the Guardian, the German news magazine Der Spiegel and the New York Times. According to documents, the targeting efforts involved programmes run from GCHQ’s listening post near the small Cornish seaside resort of Bude. This is a key listening facility that receives substantial funding from the NSA to undertake shared transatlantic surveillance operations.

Among other activities, the base was tasked with monitoring satellite communications between Europe and Africa, and the papers show that Bude tested the value of new “carriers” used by telecoms companies to judge whether they would be worth intercepting.

According to documents, dated from 2008 to 2011, a unit at Bude did this by testing samples of data to see whether surveillance targets already on GCHQ and NSA databases were making use of the new connections.

If GCHQ analysts identified a carrier they thought could be useful, they would be asked: “Can this carrier be tasked on collection system?”

Providing more permanent surveillance would often depend on whetherGCHQ had suitable software and, if not, whether it was possible to upgrade systems to make it possible.

Almunia is in charge of major anti-monopoly investigations and approving mergers of companies with significant presence in the EU. He has been involved in a long-running investigation into Google over complaints about the company’s alleged stranglehold on online advertising. He has also clashed with Google and Microsoft over privacy concerns and was prominent in the EU’s response to the global financial crisis.

Surveillance on such a senior EU official with a major role in economic affairs is bound to alarm other European nations, and raise concerns as to whether intelligence produced from Almunia or others is shared with the US – the NSA has a number of personnel at the base in Bude and contributes millions of pounds to its budget.

Another target was the French defence and logistics giant Thales Group, which is part-owned by the French government.

In all, communications from more than 60 countries were targeted in this particular operation, with other names listed in the GCHQ documents including Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the current African Union-United Nations joint special representative for Darfur, as well as multiple African heads of state.

Imboden, from the non-profit Ideas Centre in Geneva, and Solomon Asamoah, deputy head of the Africa Finance Corporation, also appeared on GCHQ’s lists.

The documents do not give any insight into why GCHQ deemed them worthy of surveillance.

In 2009, Chambas was president of Ecowas. He had been closely involved in efforts to bring peace to Liberia, and GCHQ picked up text messages he sent while in the country to receive an award.

One message read: “Thanks Kwame. Glad to know all is well. Am in Liberia for receive National Award … inde celebration.” A second added: “What machine gun sounds? Am in Gbanga former HQ of Charles Taylor …”

Offices operated by the UN development programme, which administers financial relief to poor nations, and of the World Health Organisation were also among listed targets.

The targeting of German government buildings may prove the biggest political headache for the UK. The documents show GCHQ targeting German government networks in Berlin, and official communications between Germany and Georgia and Germany and Turkey. Germany’s embassy in Rwanda was also a target.

The papers seen by the Guardian do not disclose the extent of any surveillance or for how long any collection took place.

However, each individual or group had a specific ID number in the agency’s “target knowledge base”. This indicates they had been a deliberate target of surveillance efforts, rather than accidentally caught in a dragnet.

Unlike its US counterpart, GCHQ is entitled to engage in spying relating to economic matters, but only if it is linked to national security issues.

The 1994 Intelligence and Security Act says the agency can work “in the interests of national security, with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her Majesty’s government; in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; and in support of the prevention and the detection of serious crime”. However, critics have repeatedly called for a proper definition of “national security”, and raised questions about what should be permitted to protect “economic wellbeing” beyond the need to help UK companies defend themselves against the theft of intellectual property or from cyber-attacks.

Documents show GCHQ has also been keen to break into global roaming exchanges (known as GRXs), which are centres that handle routing international mobile calls to the appropriate countries and phone networks. Belgacom, which Der Spiegel revealed this year was the victim of GCHQ hacking efforts, is one such international exchange.

One 2010 presentation referring to the agency’s efforts against GRXs went on to note that “diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO [modus operandi] of using smartphones” and added the agency had “exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year”. The Guardian in Junerevealed GCHQ had engaged in extensive surveillance efforts against G20 delegates in 2009, including in order to secure advantages in trade talks and bilaterals.

On Monday, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times jointly approached GCHQ for comment. The agency would not go into any details but said: “One of the purposes for which GCHQ may be authorised to intercept communications is where it is necessary for the purpose of safeguarding the economic wellbeing of the UK.” However, the code of practice made clear this had to be “directly related to state security. Interception under this purpose is categorically not about industrial espionage.”

The NSA said: “As we have previously said, we do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. The United States collects foreign intelligence just as many other governments do.

“The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policymakers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security. As the administration also announced several months ago, the US government is undertaking a review of our activities around the world – looking at, among other issues, how we co-ordinate with our closest allies and partners.”

 

Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance | World news | The Guardian

Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance | World news | The Guardian.

Ben Emmerson

Ben Emmerson: ‘The Guardian has revealed an extensive programme of surveillance which potentially affects every one of us.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The UN’s senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden’s revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.

The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.

The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.

In an article for the Guardian, Emmerson said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ, and its American counterpart the National Security Agency.

“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who has been the UN’s leading voice on counter-terrorism and human rights since 2011.

“It is the role of a free press to hold governments to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some Conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation. It has been disheartening to see some tabloids giving prominence to this nonsense.”

Emmerson’s intervention comes ahead of Tuesday’s hearing of the home affairs select committee, which is conducting its own inquiry into counter-terrorism.

The Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger, will give evidence to MPs on the committee on Tuesday afternoon, followed by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.

Over the last six months the Guardian, along with other international media organisations, has revealed the existence of mass surveillance programmes, such as GCHQ’s Tempora, which taps into the cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the UK.

Last month, the heads of Britain’s three intelligence agencies, MI5, GCHQ and MI6, gave evidence before parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

During a 90-minute hearing, they accused Snowden of leaking material that had been “a gift to terrorists”.

But Emmerson said such claims “need to be subjected to penetrating scrutiny”.

He said his inquiry will be requiring further testimony from GCHQ’s director, Sir Iain Lobban, the director of MI5, Andrew Parker, and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.

“I will be seeking a far more detailed explanation than security chiefs gave the (ISC) committee. They must justify some of the claims they have made in public, because as matters stand, I have seen nothing in the Guardian articles which could be a risk to national security. In this instance, the balance of public interest is clear.”

He added: “When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest there are often borderline cases. This isn’t one of them. The Guardian’s revelations are precisely the sort of information that a free press is supposed to reveal.”

Emmerson said nobody had suggested the Mail on Sunday should be prosecuted when it published revelations from the former MI5 officer,David Shayler, and that the attorney general had rightly abandoned a prosecution against Katharine Gun, the GCHQ whistleblower who in 2003 revealed the US and UK were trying to manipulate a vote at the UN security council in favour of military intervention in Iraq.

No jury would ever have convicted her even though she had broken the Official Secrets Act, Emmerson said.

“The Guardian has revealed there is an extensive programme of mass surveillance which potentially affects every one of us, but has been assiduous in avoiding the revelation of any detail which could put sources at risk. The Mail on Sunday, on the other hand, published material that was of less obvious public interest.”

Emmerson said the Snowden disclosures had caused reverberations across the world.

“There can be no doubt the revelations concern matters of international public interest. Wholescale reviews have been mooted by President Obama, Chancellor Merkel and Nick Clegg. In the US, a number of the revelations have already resulted in legislation.

“In Europe, the political class is incandescent. Many states have registered serious objections at the UN, and there are diplomatic moves towards an international agreement to restrict surveillance activity.”

Chaired by Keith Vaz, the home affairs select committee called for the Guardian to give evidence following the ISC hearing.

However, a number of civil liberties groups and campaigners have raised concerns about the intense political pressure put on the Guardian, and condemned the UK government’s demand that it destroy the Snowden files it was researching in the UK.

The freedom of expression group Article 19 and the Open Rights Group are among two signatories to a letter sent to Vaz ahead of Tuesday’s session. They describe their deep concerns that the review of the Guardian “could restrict media freedom in the UK by discouraging future reporting on important matters of public interest”.

The letter calls on MPs to take into account “international human rights standards, and in particular those that relate to the right to freedom of expression and media freedom”.

 

Former Labour minister accuses spies of ignoring MPs over surveillance | UK news | The Guardian

Former Labour minister accuses spies of ignoring MPs over surveillance | UK news | The Guardian. (FULL ARTICLE)

A former Labour cabinet minister has warned that GCHQ and Britain’s other intelligence agencies appear to be undertaking mass surveillancewithout parliament’s consent because the coalition failed to get the so-called “snoopers’ charter” passed into law after Liberal Democrat opposition.

Nick Brown, a former chief whip who sat on the parliamentary committee scrutinising the draft communications data bill, said there was an “uncanny” similarity between the GCHQ surveillance programmes exposed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden and proposals in the first part of the bill.

The communications data bill – dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics – would have given GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 much greater powers to gather and save information about people’s internet activities but it was shelved in the spring amid Lib Dem fears that it intruded too much into privacy.

Brown, a Labour MP, said that it “looks very much like this is what is happening anyway, with or without parliament’s consent” under GCHQ’s secret Tempora programme, which was revealed by the Guardian in July in reports based on files leaked by Snowden. Tempora allows GCHQ to harvest, store and analyse millions of phone calls, emails and search engine queries by tapping the transatlantic cables that carry internet traffic….

 

Bullrun: The NSA’s Infatuation With “Back Door” Penetration | Zero Hedge

Bullrun: The NSA’s Infatuation With “Back Door” Penetration | Zero Hedge.

 

NSA-leak hard drives ruined as agents watched, Guardian says – World – CBC News

NSA-leak hard drives ruined as agents watched, Guardian says – World – CBC News.

 

UK Government “Pulverizes” Guardian Hard Drives In Snowden Retaliation, Says “There’s No Need To Write Any More” | Zero Hedge

UK Government “Pulverizes” Guardian Hard Drives In Snowden Retaliation, Says “There’s No Need To Write Any More” | Zero Hedge.

 

In 2013, Problems Are Worse Than “Orwellian” | Adam Kingsmith

In 2013, Problems Are Worse Than “Orwellian” | Adam Kingsmith.

 

GCHQ accused of selling its services after revelations of funding by NSA | UK news | theguardian.com

GCHQ accused of selling its services after revelations of funding by NSA | UK news | theguardian.com.

 

NSA and GCHQ spy programmes face legal challenge | UK news | guardian.co.uk

NSA and GCHQ spy programmes face legal challenge | UK news | guardian.co.uk.

 

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