GCHQ spied on former colonies & African leaders, including UK allies – Snowden leaks
Britain’s electronic spy agency listened in on businessmen, government departments and politicians, including heads of state closely allied to the UK, according to the latest Snowden leaks.
The documents, first seen by French Newspaper Le Monde, are likely to cause severe diplomatic issues between the UK and, for example, Kenya, whose President Mwai Kibaki was named in the leaks alongside his senior advisers.
The files show a snapshot of UK operations between 2009 and 2010. GCHQ has told Le Monde it does not comment on intelligence matters but that all its operations were necessary and proportionate, and complied with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kenya, a former colony, hosts a permanent UK base and thousands of troops rotate through it every year to be trained in warfare in arid environments.
As well as intercepting Kibaki’s communications, the UK also spied on then Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Other victims of UK espionage include roving businessmen from Ivory Coast, Gabon, Tunisia, Mali and Congo and members of the military, intelligence community and former and current statesman from a number of counties, including Angola.
The documents also show that the UK listened in on calls by the leader of another former colony, Nigeria.
Phone calls between the oil-rich nation’s President Umaru Yar’Adua and his main advisers were also invasively monitored. As were those of the then-serving heads of state of two other freed UK colonies, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Many of the intercepts seem to have been aimed at economic activity, including the Democratic Republic of Congo’s department of mines, Kenyan banker Chris Kirubi and the Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu – one of Africa’s most influential men.
Le Monde also claims to have found documents showing that GCHQ spied on Pascal Lamy, who at the time – 2009 – was serving as head of the World Trade Organization.