Nations Demand Explanation for Britain’s G20 Spying

GCHQ Was Spying on Foreign Officials During Summit

The British government has found itself embroiled in an international scandal today following the leaking of GCHQ documents which bragged of the British spy agency’s pervasive interception of private messages by diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit.

Officials from several nations have lashed the invasion of privacy, with the delegates most targeted, Russian, Turkish and South African, issuing statements expressing serious concern about the breech of diplomatic trust.

The GCHQ documents, leaked to the Guardian over the weekend, bragged about the “success” of eavesdropping against officials, including Turkey’s Finance Minister and Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev.

It went on to claim that its surveillance of the diplomats at the summit was so pervasive that they were able to provide copies of messages to the British delegation in near real-time. The documents detailed breaking into RIMM Blackberry devices, and will likely add to the concerns about the insecurity of such devices in the face of government surveillance, not just for diplomats but for everybody else.

British Foreign Office officials confirmed receiving complaints about the surveillance today, but have declined any other comments, insisting it was a matter of “intelligence” and would be kept secret.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.