Police Scotland confirms secret G8 file on notorious undercover police unit

POLICE Scotland has confirmed that a secret file was created on the activities of a disgraced undercover unit at the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The “intelligence briefings” on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose officers had sex with the protestors they spied on, will now be examined by a watchdog as part of its covert policing probe. Police Scotland said they would not comment on the contents of the file.

Two Met-based units – the Special Demonstration Squad and the NPOIU – were set up to keep tabs on so-called subversives and domestic extremists.

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A key strategy was to embed undercover officers in campaign groups, which included anti-racism organisations, and report back to handlers.

However, some of the tactics deployed by officers in the units, such as using the identities of dead babies and deceiving women into long-term sexual relationships before vanishing, have since been exposed.

The Pitchford Inquiry, set up by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, is examining undercover policing going back decades.

Although the judicial-led investigation does not apply to Scotland, NPOIU activity took place north of the border in the run up to the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005.

Mark “Stone” was a driver for campaigners at the G8, but was unmasked as undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

He later said in an interview: “My superior officer told me on more than one occasion, particularly during the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, that information I was providing was going directly to Tony Blair’s desk.”

Ahead of the G8, the then Scottish Executive issued a Ministerial Certificate blocking the release of information connected with the summit. The blackout applied to all Scottish public authorities, including police forces, health bodies and the Government.

However, it can be revealed that the SNP Government quietly revoked the certificate in 2010, a decision that could result in information on the summit being released.

After being asked by this newspaper for the titles of all files produced by on the G8 in 2005, Police Scotland confirmed the names of 1168 files.

Forty-four were created by the former Fife Constabulary, whose patch included the Gleneagles hotel, while 1124 files were produced by Lothian and Borders police.

Many of the files are on routine policing matters, but one document is described as “intelligence briefings” on the “National Public Order Intelligence Unit”.

Other files include “stop the war coalition – regulatory board” and “indymedia”, which was a left-wing website at the time.

There was also correspondence with the security services on the “Senior Leadership Development Programme”, a funding request for a “special branch operation” in May 2005 and over a dozen files on the peaceful Make Poverty History march.

After the UK Government refused to extend the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland launched its own review of undercover policing.

A spokesperson for HMICS said: “As outlined in our terms of reference HMICS will examine the scale and extent of undercover police operations in Scotland conducted by the SDS and the NPOIU. As part of our scrutiny, we will review the authorisations for undercover deployments during the G8 Summit in Scotland in July 2005. HMICS are currently engaged in this process with the full cooperation of Police Scotland. With specific regard to the intelligence file, HMICS will ?examine this file for any information that may inform our review process.”

Donal O’Driscoll, a core participant in the Pitchford Inquiry who was spied on in Scotland, said: “We have long argued that the both the SDS and the NPOIU were active in Scotland, particularly around the 2005 G8. The existence of this file strengthens our case that there needs to be a full inquiry into the activities of spy cops in Scotland – and renders the exclusion of Scotland from the Pitchford Inquiry even more inexplicable.

“We continue to have no confidence in the HMICS review. Nevertheless, I’d expect them to at least make the effort to examine this and related briefings as part of the bare minimum they need to do. Not least because it is now beyond dispute there were multiple undercover police from the NPOIU and foreign police forces present at the G8 protests. However, only a full public inquiry can get to the truth as to what the police and the state had planned and co-ordinated when they interfered in legitimate democratic protest.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland does not routinely comment on covert policing or intelligence. We will not offer any comment on the contents of any specific files. Any inquiries relating to the NPOIU should be directed to the Met Police. Police Scotland will also fully and openly co-operate with the review of undercover policing to be carried out by HMICS.”

/ Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor / @paulhutcheon

Find this story at 25 March 2017
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G20 summit: NSA targeted Russian president Medvedev in London

Leaked documents reveal Russian president was spied on during visit, as questions are raised over use of US base in Britain

US spies intercepted communications of the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during a G20 summit in London. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

American spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal.

The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s biggest surveillance and eavesdropping organisation, and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered “a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted”.

The disclosure underlines the importance of the US spy hub at RAF Menwith Hill in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where hundreds of NSA analysts are based, working alongside liaison officers from GCHQ.

The document was drafted in August 2009, four months after the visit by Medvedev, who joined other world leaders in London, including the US president, Barack Obama, for the event hosted by the British prime minister, Gordon Brown.

Medvedev arrived in London on Wednesday 1 April and the NSA intercepted communications from his delegation the same day, according to the NSA paper, entitled: “Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London – Intercept at Menwith Hill station.”

The document starts with two pictures of Medvedev smiling for the world’s media alongside Brown and Obama in bilateral discussions before the main summit.
RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters

The report says: “This is an analysis of signal activity in support of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to London. The report details a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted. The signal activity was found to be emanating from the Russian embassy in London and the communications are believed to be in support of the Russian president.”

The NSA interception of the Russian leadership at G20 came hours after Obama and Medvedev had met for the first time. Relations between the two leaders had been smoothed in the runup to the summit with a series of phone calls and letters, with both men wanting to establish a trusting relationship to discuss the ongoing banking crisis and nuclear disarmament.

In the aftermath of their discussions on 1 April, the two men issued a joint communique saying they intended to “move further along the path of reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms in accordance with the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”.

A White House official who briefed journalists described the meeting as “a very successful first meeting focused on real issues”. The official said it had been important for the men to be open about the issues on which they agreed and disagreed. Obama had stressed the need to be candid, the official noted.

While it has been widely known the two countries spy on each other, it is rare for either to be caught in the act; the latest disclosures will also be deeply embarrassing for the White House as Obama prepares to meet Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Medvedev as president, in the margins of the G8 summit this week.

The two countries have long complained about the extent of each other’s espionage activities, and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats are common. A year after Obama met Medvedev, the US claimed it had broken a highly sophisticated spy ring that carried out “deep cover” assignments in the US.

Ten alleged Russian spies living in America were arrested.

Putin was withering of the FBI-led operation: “I see that your police have let themselves go and put some people in jail, but I guess that is their job. I hope the positive trend that we have seen develop in our bilateral relations recently will not be harmed by these events.” Last month, the Russians arrested an American in Moscow who they alleged was a CIA agent.

The new revelations underline the significance of RAF Menwith Hill and raise questions about its relationship to the British intelligence agencies, and who is responsible for overseeing it. The 560-acre site was leased to the Americans in 1954 and the NSA has had a large presence there since 1966.

It has often been described as the biggest surveillance and interception facility in the world, and has 33 distinct white “radomes” that house satellite dishes. A US base in all but name, it has British intelligence analysts seconded to work alongside NSA colleagues, though it is unclear how the two agencies obtain and share intelligence – and under whose legal authority they are working under.

Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball
The Guardian, Monday 17 June 2013

Find this story at 17 June 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians’ communications at G20 summits

Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009

Documents uncovered by the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, reveal surveillance of G20 delegates’ emails and BlackBerrys. Photograph: Guardian

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.

The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian. They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009 GCHQ used what one document calls “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept the communications of visiting delegations.

This included:

• Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers;

• Penetrating the security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;

• Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;

• Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party;

• Receiving reports from an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.

The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and that intelligence, including briefings for visiting delegates, was passed to British ministers.

A briefing paper dated 20 January 2009 records advice given by GCHQ officials to their director, Sir Iain Lobban, who was planning to meet the then foreign secretary, David Miliband. The officials summarised Brown’s aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: “The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it.” Two documents explicitly refer to the intelligence product being passed to “ministers”.
One of the GCHQ documents. Photograph: Guardian

According to the material seen by the Guardian, GCHQ generated this product by attacking both the computers and the telephones of delegates.

One document refers to a tactic which was “used a lot in recent UK conference, eg G20”. The tactic, which is identified by an internal codeword which the Guardian is not revealing, is defined in an internal glossary as “active collection against an email account that acquires mail messages without removing them from the remote server”. A PowerPoint slide explains that this means “reading people’s email before/as they do”.

The same document also refers to GCHQ, MI6 and others setting up internet cafes which “were able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished”. This appears to be a reference to acquiring delegates’ online login details.

Another document summarises a sustained campaign to penetrate South African computers, recording that they gained access to the network of their foreign ministry, “investigated phone lines used by High Commission in London” and “retrieved documents including briefings for South African delegates to G20 and G8 meetings”. (South Africa is a member of the G20 group and has observer status at G8 meetings.)
Another excerpt from the GCHQ documents. Photograph: Guardian

A detailed report records the efforts of the NSA’s intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.

Other documents record apparently successful efforts to penetrate the security of BlackBerry smartphones: “New converged events capabilities against BlackBerry provided advance copies of G20 briefings to ministers … Diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO of using smartphones. Exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year.”

The operation appears to have run for at least six months. One document records that in March 2009 – the month before the heads of state meeting – GCHQ was working on an official requirement to “deliver a live dynamically updating graph of telephony call records for target G20 delegates … and continuing until G20 (2 April).”

Another document records that when G20 finance ministers met in London in September, GCHQ again took advantage of the occasion to spy on delegates, identifying the Turkish finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, as a target and listing 15 other junior ministers and officials in his delegation as “possible targets”. As with the other G20 spying, there is no suggestion that Simsek and his party were involved in any kind of criminal offence. The document explicitly records a political objective – “to establish Turkey’s position on agreements from the April London summit” and their “willingness (or not) to co-operate with the rest of the G20 nations”.

The September meeting of finance ministers was also the subject of a new technique to provide a live report on any telephone call made by delegates and to display all of the activity on a graphic which was projected on to the 15-sq-metre video wall of GCHQ’s operations centre as well as on to the screens of 45 specialist analysts who were monitoring the delegates.

“For the first time, analysts had a live picture of who was talking to who that updated constantly and automatically,” according to an internal review.

A second review implies that the analysts’ findings were being relayed rapidly to British representatives in the G20 meetings, a negotiating advantage of which their allies and opposite numbers may not have been aware: “In a live situation such as this, intelligence received may be used to influence events on the ground taking place just minutes or hours later. This means that it is not sufficient to mine call records afterwards – real-time tip-off is essential.”

In the week after the September meeting, a group of analysts sent an internal message to the GCHQ section which had organised this live monitoring: “Thank you very much for getting the application ready for the G20 finance meeting last weekend … The call records activity pilot was very successful and was well received as a current indicator of delegate activity …

“It proved useful to note which nation delegation was active during the moments before, during and after the summit. All in all, a very successful weekend with the delegation telephony plot.”

Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball
The Guardian, Monday 17 June 2013

Find this story at 17 June 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

G20 summit: Britain plunged into diplomatic row over claims GCHQ spied on foreign politicians

Intelligence services were even said to have set up internet cafés at the summit venues which they used to read emails

Britain was plunged into a diplomatic row last night following claims that foreign politicians and diplomats were repeatedly spied upon when they attended two G20 summit meetings in London.

The allegations provoked anger in Turkey, Russia and South Africa, whose dignitaries were reportedly targeted by the covert surveillance operations in 2009 while Gordon Brown was Prime Minister.

The intelligence services were even said to have set up internet cafés at the summit venues which they used to read emails sent by visiting officials.

David Cameron refused yesterday to comment on the allegations, which proved an embarrassing distraction for him as the leaders of G8 nations gathered for a two-day meeting at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.

However, one British source said he was not surprised by the claims and said it was always assumed other delegations tried to listen in to other countries’ private discussions at international summits.

Turkey, up to 15 of whose officials could have been snooped on in London, spelt out its fury and contacted the UK’s ambassador to Ankara to demand an explanation. It described the report in the Guardian as “very worrying”, particularly as Turkey and Britain are both members of Nato.

“We want an official and satisfactory explanation,” said a spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry. “If these allegations are true, this is going to be scandalous for the UK.

“At a time when international co-operation depends on mutual trust, respect and transparency, such behaviour by an allied country is unacceptable.”

Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry said in his twitter feed that the matter was “extremely disturbing” and was “receiving attention”.

He said Britain and South Africa had cordial relations and called on London to investigate the claims “with a view to take strong & visible action”.

Alexei Pushkov, the chief of foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russian parliament, tweeted: “It’s a scandal! The U.S. and British special services tapped (then President Dmitry) Medvedev’s phone at the 2009 G-20 summit. The US denies it, but we can’t trust them.”

Sergei Devyatov, a spokesman for the Federal Protection Service, which provides security for Russian government officials, said in a statement: “The Federal Protective Service is taking every necessary measure to provide the appropriate level of confidentiality of information for top-ranking officials of the country.”

According to yesterday’s report, secret documents show that delegates to the two summits had their computers monitored and phones intercepted on the Government’s orders.

The Guardian said the leaked papers suggested the operation was sanctioned at a senior level in Mr Brown’s government. One briefing paper said the head of GCHQ was about to meet David Miliband, who was the Foreign Secretary at the time.

One former Brown aide told the Independent yesterday: “We always assumed that everyone else did it at such meetings. We were advised not to plug in our laptops, use photocopiers, wi-fi or our usual Blackberrys – we would be given a different one for the duration of a summit.

“Traditionally the French were always at it. Others joined in so as not to be at a disadvantage. It was about knowing the thinking in the other delegations. But usually it didn’t yield much that was very surprising. It was regarded as fair game because every government did the same. I don’t know if it ever extended from governments to civil society or the media, that would be different and much more sinister.”

Tackled about the reports, Mr Cameron said today: “We never comment on security or intelligence issues and I am not about to start now. I don’t make comments on security or intelligence issues – that would be breaking something that no government has previously done.”

David Miliband could not be contacted last night.

Nigel Morris, Andrew Grice
Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Find this story at 18 June 2013

© independent.co.uk

UK intelligence agencies planned to spy on Commonwealth summit delegates

Top-secret document, prepared by GCHQ, contained proposals to target Commonwealth allies at heads of government summit

The Queen and Commonwealth leaders at the heads of government summit in Trinidad. Photograph: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

UK intelligence agencies planned to spy on delegates to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in 2009, including being asked to obtain information to give UK ministers an advantage in talks with their Commonwealth counterparts, according to a top-secret document seen by the Guardian.

The meeting, which takes place every two years, was held in Trinidad in 2009. The UK delegation was headed by the Queen, with Prince Philip also in attendance, along with Gordon Brown, the then prime minister, David Miliband, then foreign secretary, and Douglas Alexander, then international development secretary.

A page from an internal top-secret intranet of GCHQ, shared with the NSA, discovered by the 29-year-old whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows a list of “key intelligence requirements” set out for the summit.

Alongside notes to check for threats against the security of the UK delegation during the visit, the document lists “Intelligence to inform UK senior’s [sic] Bi-lats”, “Initelligence [sic] on South Africa’s views on Zimbabwe prior to Brown/Zuma meeting” and “climate change reporting”.

The revelation that UK intelligence agencies made plans to target ministers and officials from Commonwealth countries, as well as the targeting of G20 officials disclosed elsewhere, is likely to raise tensions among the Commonwealth nations, who may seek clarity over whether their officials were bugged, and if so to what extent.

The note, which was prepared in advance of the meeting, also sets out a schedule for different UK agencies to set up their activities in Trinidad. MI6 were tasked to set up several days before the event, with GCHQ’s operation beginning with the arrival of delegates. The Guardian is not publishing the original document as it contains logistical details and some limited references to personnel.

The 2009 Commonwealth meeting, which was also attended by Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, appears to have been the first time MI6 – formally known as SIS, or the Secret Intelligence Service – had been asked to gather intelligence from a Commonwealth heads of government gathering.

“SIS have no past history of targeting this meeting,” the document notes in an explanation of why operations might be limited in their scope.

As it was prepared in advance of the Commonwealth meeting, the memo does not confirm to what extent surveillance was carried out, or even whether planned operations actually took place.

However, it does stress to agency staff that “we will be measured on our ability to deliver”.

The memo also shows that the agencies were preparing to brief senior ministers, and the prime minister, during the conference.

The memo noted that Lady Kinnock was available for briefings from 25 to 29 November, David Miliband could be briefed from 26 to 29 November, and Gordon Brown on 29 November only.

There is no indication as to whether the briefings actually took place, or whether the ministers were aware of the security services’ plans for the summit.

Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball
The Guardian, Sunday 16 June 2013 20.47 BST

Find this story at 16 June 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Ian Tomlinson’s last moments shown at trial of Simon Harwood

Jury sees footage tracing newspaper vendor’s movements through City of London during G20 protests in 2009
Simon Harwood, charged with the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson, arrives at Southwark crown court with his wife, Helen. Photograph: Rex Features

A court has seen video footage of the minutes leading to the death of Ian Tomlinson, the man prosecutors allege was killed on the fringes of the G20 protests in London by a riot police officer who struck him with a baton before shoving him to the ground.

The jury at Southwark crown court also heard from friends of Tomlinson, who said he had been calm and happy on the evening of 1 April 2009, although clearly under the influence of drink. The court was shown another compilation of images, tracking the movements of the police constable involved, Simon Harwood, before his encounter with Tomlinson.

Tomlinson’s family looked on grim-faced as the prosecution showed dozens of video clips giving a chronological rundown of Tomlinson’s movements as he tried to return home, having spent time with a newspaper vendor friend by Monument station in the City.

They also saw several video angles of the moment when Harwood, a member of the Metropolitan police’s Territorial Support Group unit, struck Tomlinson on the leg with a baton as the 47-year-old walked away from police lines, his hands in his pockets. Harwood then shoved Tomlinson to the ground causing, the prosecution alleges, internal bleeding which killed him within little more than half an hour.

In his attempt to reach the hostel where he lived when not with his family at weekends, Tomlinson, a long-term alcoholic, headed towards Bank tube station, where he was turned back at a police cordon set up following clashes involving protesters marking the G20 meeting of world leaders. He then wandered through alleyways towards the pedestrian passageway by the Royal Exchange building, where he encountered Harwood.

This slow progress was followed by dozens of cameras, mainly CCTV but also shaky, handheld amateur video, and footage from TV crews. The montage, some of it only brief glimpses as Tomlinson walked past internal cameras in shops, was compiled by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which initially investigated his death.

While there were still occasional skirmishes between police and protesters by this time, throughout his walk Tomlinson appeared calm, walking mainly with his hands in the pockets of his tracksuit trousers. The final footage, chronologically, showed Tomlinson briefly walking away after he was pushed to the ground and then, after a cut in the filming, lying prone on the pavement, where a medical student was trying to assist him.

Harwood, 45, was first shown standing by the police van he had been designated to drive, then dragging away a man who wrote graffiti on the vehicle, only to lose him when the man slipped out of his jacket. Wearing a riot helmet and balaclava but easily identifiable by a waist-length fluorescent jacket, Harwood then joined a line of other riot officers who began clearing the passageway.

Amid initial chaos, Harwood shoved a man who blew a plastic vuvuzela in his face before pushing over a cameraman filming an arrest.

Another piece of footage showed Harwood pushing a third man, who had stopped seemingly to help someone sitting on the pavement. It is shortly after this that the line of police reaches Tomlinson.

The court later heard from several of Tomlinson’s friends, including Barry Smith, a newspaper vendor who had known him for more than 25 years. Smith said his friend had been very happy that day, having cashed his giro and used some of the money to travel to the Millwall FC club shop in south-east London to buy a replica shirt and other clothes.

Tomlinson had left the stall only because the papers sold out early, Smith said: “If I’d phoned up and got some more papers he might have been alive. I’m gutted.”

Find this story at 19 June 2012

Peter Walker
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 June 2012 18.08 BST

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.