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US spies on EU Allies (english)
by Constant Brand
19 Mar 2003
Electronic bugging devices were found in offices used by several countries, including France and Germany, in a building where a European Union summit will open Thursday, EU officials said.
Listening devices found in EU offices used by France, Germany, Britain, others
By Constant Brand, Associated Press, 3/19/2003 13:21
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) Electronic bugging devices were found in offices used by several countries, including France and Germany, in a building where a European Union summit will open Thursday, EU officials said.
The EU is investigating the bugging in a headquarters building but does not yet know who was behind it, EU spokesman Dominique-George Marro said Wednesday.
EU diplomats said listening devices were found in offices used by France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain and Austria. They were discovered Feb. 28 during regular security sweeps by EU security services.
The French newspaper Le Figaro broke the story Wednesday, saying Belgian police identified the bugs as American. The report did not say why officials believe the devices are American, and that report could not be confirmed immediately.
''At this point we cannot say who planted these bugs,'' said Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for foreign and security policy.
The American mission to the EU has ''received no communication about the investigation from the EU,'' a spokesman for the U.S. mission said on condition of anonymity.
Marro said the EU ''found anomalies in the telephone lines'' during the security sweeps. The bugs had not been announced because investigators thought they had a better chance of catching the culprits if the find was kept secret.
Marro said only a small number of lines had been affected in the sprawling glass-and-marble Justus Lipsius building in central Brussels, but declined to say the type or how many were found.
In Paris, a spokesman for President Jacques Chirac's UMP party said he was ''surprised, very astonished and profoundly shocked'' by the discovery.
''Everything concerning illegal devices, everything concerning the surveillance of friendly countries ... is a pure and real scandal,'' Francois Baroin said.
Georg Possanner, a spokesman for the Austrian delegation, was quoted by the Austrian Press Agency as saying the bugging was a ''totally professional work.''
Leaders of the 15 EU nations are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday at the building for their annual spring summit, during which they also are expected to discuss the Iraqi crisis.
The building houses the secretariat of the EU council of ministers. The EU's regular meetings of ministers are held there. The building also houses Solana's offices.
''There is an urgent interest in clearing this up,'' German Interior Ministry spokesman Rainer Lingenthal said. ''We still hope to find those responsible.''
No devices were found on the phones in Solana's office or at the EU's military wing, housed in the same building, Gallach said.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said he was informed of the bugs Wednesday morning.
''The first thing I can do is to condemn this act,'' he said. ''Once we get the results, obviously you will be informed ... we will find out soon and take the appropriate measures.''
Earlier this month, London's Observer newspaper reported the United States was spying on other U.N. Security Council delegations. The Observer said a U.S. National Security Agency memo showed the United States was monitoring the phones and e-mail of U.N. delegates in New York.
The White House declined comment at the time and a U.N. spokesman said no Security Council member had confirmed the report.
Two years ago, the European Parliament investigated reports that a U.S.-led global spy network dubbed ''Echelon'' allegedly snooped on Europe's business community. U.S. officials have not acknowledged that such a network exists and have said American agencies do not engage in industrial espionage.
The European Parliament warned EU nations at the time to step up security measures to protect sensitive government and business communications.