Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Ecuador’s London embassy is bugged

Posted by Charles II on July 3, 2013

Estelle Shirbon, Reuters reports that the Foreign Minister of Ecuador has reported finding a microphone inside the London Ecuador office.

Prajap Chatterjee at Corpwatch has the only decent article on this story:

Spy equipment from the Surveillance Group Limited, a British private detective agency based in Worcester, England, has been found in the Ecuadorean embassy in London …

At a press conference in Quito this afternoon, Ricardo Patiño, the foreign minister of Ecuador, held up a photo of a “spy microphone” that was found on June 14 inside a small white box that was placed in an electrical outlet behind a bookshelf. The device contained a telephone SIM card allowing it to broadcast any conversations that it picked up.

Nobody has yet come forward to claim the device but a casual web search reveals that the Surveillance Group boasts of its ability to install tracking devices anywhere.

“We can justifiably claim to be the only company in the world to offer an internationally accredited, covert camera construction, concealment and deployment course,” a company website claims. “We can provide a range of bespoke, unmanned, covert camera options to gather vital video evidence in the most challenging environment or scenarios. The cameras can further be supported by the use of micro tracking devices for deployment with customer property or vehicles.”

The listening device is not the only way that Ecuador suspects that it is being monitored. An article in the Wall Street Journal last week quoted extensively from email correspondence between aides of President Rafael Correa, revealing that someone was hacking internal government communications.

The Journal said it has obtained the emails from Univision Networks, a U.S. based Spanish TV network, but Wikileaks says that the U.S. government could well have provided them with the raw material.

7 Responses to “Ecuador’s London embassy is bugged”

  1. “So we carefully rolled back the antique Persian carpet, carefully unscrewing four brass screws from the small brass plate and, somewhat unfortunately, the chandelier in the room below fell down.”

  2. Yet another bit of news that somehow didn’t make it to the US media outlets.

    Though to be fair, embassy bugging is a time-honored sport, at least between two of the world’s three hyperpowers. The US Embassy in Moscow (custom-built by the Soviets) had bugs built into it, and I seem to recall that we returned the favor with the Russian Embassy in DC.

    • Charles II said

      My response to this thesis is that each of our mothers taught us that “Everybody is doing it” is not a valid line of argument. If “everyone” is huffing lighter fluid, that does not make it a wise or wholesome practice.

      What happened in the Cold War has to be understood as hostile acts between states that were always near the brink of war. Is that what we want in our relations with Ecuador?

      • That’s why I included the caveat “at least between two of the world’s three hyperpowers”. Ecuador didn’t become important enough for even the spy-happy Brits to bug until Assange came along.

    • Charles II said

      BTW, check the update, PW.

      Really, our media are hopeless.

      • Meanwhile, the Russians sound like they’re getting ready to cough up Snowden — I give them less than a week now before they simply drive him over to the US Embassy:

        http://news.yahoo.com/russia-shows-growing-impatience-over-snowdens-airport-stay-154952558.html

        I repeat: Looks like Snowden’s planning hinged on getting Ecuador to grant him asylum, and when they refused (yeah, technically, they said they’ll consider it if he somehow makes it to the doorstep of their embassy, but we all know that ain’t happening), he didn’t have a backup plan. So he’s coming back to the US, almost certainly before the month is out and likely by this time next week.

      • Charles II said

        There’s a concerted campaign to make it sound as if Snowden is a trapped rat who has nothing left to do but surrender to the hounds.

        I don’t think that Russia wants to look like it can be pushed around by the US. If nothing else, Cuba would probably accept Snowden, if only to p–s off the United States.

        You may remember a gentleman named Philip Agee?

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