The Guardian newspaper says the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ repeatedly hacked into foreign diplomats’ phones and emails when the U.K. hosted international conferences, even going so far as to set up a bugged Internet cafe in an effort to get an edge in high-stakes negotiations.
The report — the latest in a series of revelations which have ignited a worldwide debate over the scope of Western intelligence gathering — came just hours before Britain was due to open the G8 summit Monday, a meeting of the seven biggest economies plus Russia, in Northern Ireland. The allegation that the United Kingdom has previously used its position as host to spy on its allies and other attendees could make for awkward conversation as the delegates arrive for talks.
“The diplomatic fallout from this could be considerable,” said British academic Richard J. Aldrich, whose book GCHQ charts the agency’s history.
GCHQ declined to comment on the report.