British and American intelligence agencies spied on world leaders at two G20 conferences in London in 2009, by bugging their phones and intercepting their emails, it was reported on Monday.
The revelation sparked an angry reaction from several countries and overshadowed a summit of G8 leaders, which opened in Northern Ireland. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the foreign leaders who attended a G20 summit in April 2009, while the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, took part at a conference of G20 Finance Ministers in September, but there was no suggestion that they were targeted. The main targets were the then Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and officials from South Africa, according to documents leaked to The Guardian by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009, GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters of U.K.] used what one document calls ‘ground-breaking intelligence capabilities’ to intercept the communications of visiting delegations,” the paper said. The delegates had “their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts.” Some were “tricked” into using Internet cafes set up by British intelligence services.