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SLUG: 2-313555 U-N Bugging Controversy (L-O)
TITLE=U-N / BUGGING CONTROVERSY (L-O)
INTRO: A U-N spokesman says any bugging of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's phones -- if it happened -- would be a violation of international law. Peter Heinlein has details from U-N headquarters in New York.
TEXT: Spokesman Fred Eckhard says the secretary-general was disappointed to hear allegations that British intelligence had spied on him.
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Such activity would undermine the integrity and confidential nature of diplomatic exchanges. Those who speak to the secretary-general are entitled to assume their exchanges are confidential.
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Mr. Eckhard's comments came after former British Cabinet member Clare Short said intelligence agents listened in on Secretary-General Annan's phone conversations in the days before the war in Iraq. Ms. Short made the allegation in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
U-N Spokesman Eckhard said, if true, such activities would constitute violations of at least three international conventions, and would compromise the secretary-general's effectiveness as an international diplomat.
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We're reaffirming the principle that these premises are inviolable under international law, and we expect all member states to respect their commitments under this legal instrument.
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Mr. Eckhard emphasized that U-N security personnel do not know when or if the secretary-general's phone has been bugged. He said efforts to detect spying had been intensified, but would not specify what that might mean.
He told reporters "We're throwing down a red flag, and saying, if this is true, please stop it." (SIGNED)
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