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[casi] Listening Devices Are Found in EU Offices




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Listening Devices Are Found in EU Offices
Wednesday March 19, 2003 6:30 PM



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.









Guardian Unlimited  Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003



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