CSEC aided in U.S.-led spying efforts on diplomats

New revelations indicate that Canada’s ultra-secretive spy agency CSEC may have taken part in U.S.-led efforts to spy on diplomats.

Canada has used diplomatic facilities abroad to house electronic eavesdropping operations allied with American global surveillance programs, according to a recently leaked U.S. document.

A slide presentation leaked to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggests that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) took part in a broader U.S.-led effort known as “Stateroom” that collect “SigInt” (signals intelligence) from secret installations inside embassies and consulates. Such spying often takes place without the knowledge of the diplomats posted to these missions, the document says.

CSEC could not immediately respond to questions about the leaked document, but generally says it does not break Canadian laws and that it cannot comment on the methods that it uses to collect foreign intelligence.

The document recording Canada’s participation in “Stateroom” was published this week by Der Spiegel magazine in a broader piece about U.S. spying in Germany. The report focused on evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was targeted for surveillance. The disclosure has prompted German officials to openly mull expelling U.S. diplomats.

Relying “mostly” on leaked NSA documents from former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel published a leaked “Stateroom Guide” glossary that directly referenced CSEC. On Monday, Canadian blogger Bill Robinson drew attention to the passage on his “Lux Ex Umbra” intelligence blog.

“STATEROOM sites are covert SIGINT collection sites located in diplomatic facilities abroad,” the leaked document says. “SIGINT agencies hosting such sites include … Communication Security Establishments or CSE (at Canadian diplomatic facilities).”

No locations are given for the alleged CSEC outposts in embassies abroad.

The leaked U.S. document goes on to says that such surveillance equipment is concealed – “in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds” –– and that such operations are highly compartmentalized. “They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned.”

Article by Colin Freeze for The Globe and Mail

Find this article at 29 October 2013

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