Iran Press TV

UK spies on Mideast, EU from Cyprus base: Reports

Iran Press TV

Thu Nov 7, 2013 4:24PM GMT

The UK government has been conducting a massive spying operation on private, diplomatic and business communications of the Middle East and North Africa regions as well as Europe through its military base in Cyprus, media reports say.

A cross-European media team carried out a joint investigative research, whose findings revealed that Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had installed spying devices in the military base in Cyprus, where many trans-Mediterranean fiber-optic cables from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe come ashore, according to the reports.

A report published by Italy's L'Espresso newspaper unveiled a secret installation codenamed 'Sounder', which the UK spying apparatus had erected on the territory of Ayios Nikolaos Station, where the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia is located.

The station is equipped with radars and antennas that are capable of monitoring the airwaves coming from hundreds of kilometers around, the report said.

According to the report British spying apparatus has also employed passive optical splitters to tap into at least 14 undersea cables passing through Cyprus. The GCHQ, therefore, enjoys the capability to take care of tens of millions of e-mails, sms messages and phone calls in its bid to take full advantage of any kind of data available daily in the region.

"A number of cables connect Cyprus to Israel and Syria, obvious targets for Anglo-American spying. Other cables run from Cyprus to Lebanon, Cyprus to Egypt and Turkey to Greece and Italy," L'Espresso reported.

Meanwhile, Greek newspaper Ta Nea and television channel Alpha TV, as well as German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, disclosed in separate reports that British spying apparatus has been conducting intelligence activities on trade and economic organizations and individuals from the Middle East countries to nations in the Mediterranean region for an undisclosed period of time.

The German daily also reported that documents leaked by the US whistleblower and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden showed American spies have been cooperating with their British counterparts in Cyprus.

"The document says American intelligence staff are required to dress as tourists, because the UK has promised the Cyprus government that only British staff will work there," Sueddeutsche Zeitung said in its report.

The GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham refused to comment on the issue, only giving a standard reply: "It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters."

This is while another revelation in the UK's Independent newspaper, said GCHQ has been using Britain's embassy building in Berlin to conduct spying on Germany's constitutional and legislative body, Bundestag, as well as the office of the Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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