Bugs found in EU, US doesn't get blame. Yet.
Bit old tech for them, we reckon...
Bugs have been found in an EU building used by the council of ministers, and intended to host a meeting between Tony Blair French president Jacques Chirac tonight. It is not however clear who planted them and how long they've been there.
The discovery of the bugs was reported in France's Le Figaro yesterday, but they were actually uncovered in a "regular" sweep on 28th February, and despite the alleged regularity of such sweeps, some reports suggest they could have been there since the building was constructed in 1995. Figaro claims that Belgian police have identified the devices as American, but EU officials are currently denying that anything of the sort has been established.
The bugs appear to have targeted a mixed batch of delegations; British, French, German, Spanish and Austrian, with the Italians also mentioned initially, but then ruled out by the EU. Who'd want to snoop on this little lot then? Depending on how long they've been there, there could be quite a few people, including some of the people snooped on. The bugging might be something to do with the current main event, but there are all sorts of issues - e.g. the expansion of EU membership - which would provide motives for different countries to want to listen in.
The devices were intended to tap phone lines used by the various governments, and were reportedly installed at the building's switchboard. If true, this may be significant, because although the building is a known security disaster area, it's probably still something a challenge to install bugs at the switchboard.
Oddly enough, the US is probably less likely to be the culprit than several other candidates. Certainly, the US is extremely keen on monitoring communications, but as the proprietor of Echelon its need for the hazardous installation of physical devices in targets' offices is less than that of poorer countries who don't own space. That might not apply if they've been there for a very long time, of course - in which case, maybe we could blame Bill... (No, not that Bill - Clinton, dammit) @reg;