Monday

17th Jun 2019

CIA used Frankfurt consulate to spy on Europeans

  • Protest against US dragnet surveillance tactics revealed by Edward Snowden (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The US intelligence agency, the CIA, has used the American consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base to carry out digital spy operations, Wikileaks revealed on Tuesday (7 March).

The Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, based in the German city, was the base for CIA hackers covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Wikileaks said. The information is based on documents from the agency's internal discussion forum.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The leaked documents included a guide for CIA hackers on how to prepare for their trip to Germany.

“Be aware that your coworkers here are all under cover. While cover seems like an administrative thing back home, it is vital in the Field,” the guide said.

The document said the hackers' cover story should be “Supporting technical consultations at the Consulate”.

It also contained practical tips, like knowing when German holidays are, that on Sunday most shops are closed, and that they should not leave any electronic equipment in the hotel room.

“Paranoid, yes, but better safe then sorry.”

The guide also recommended flying with Lufthansa instead of United: “Booze is free so enjoy (within reason)!” and personal pages, like a long list of smileys.

The vast majority of the released documents – 8,761, according to WikiLeaks – appear to be technical information on possible hacking techniques.

It included information on how to exploit vulnerabilities in the security of Apple, Android, and Windows devices, but also Samsung TVs.

Big Brother

Some documents point to a collaboration with a counterpart from the United Kingdom. One indicated that at least nineteen “joint development workshops” had been held.

In the week of 16 June 2014, there was a US-UK joint workshop with MI5, the UK domestic intelligence agency, about how to hack into Samsung smart TVs, so that they could be used to eavesdrop.

The programme was called Weeping Angel.

“After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on,” Wikileaks summarised in a press release.

“In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server,” it added.

The leaks bring to mind the uncovering of covert operations by the NSA, another US intelligence agency.

The man responsible for that leak, Edward Snowden, said on Tuesday in a tweet that the new reports showed that the US government is “developing vulnerabilities in US products, then intentionally keeping the holes open. Reckless beyond words.”

Trump's anti-privacy order stirs EU angst

The EU commission has said data-sharing pacts with the US will stay in place despite Donald Trump's decision to strip EU nationals of protection.

Spy agencies launch 'real-time' terror tracker

Intelligence agencies in Europe launched an "interactive operative real-time information system" in July to collect data on jihadist suspects, EUobserver has learned.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

News in Brief

  1. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  2. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat
  3. Tanker attacks pose questions for EU on Iran deal
  4. Johnson skips TV debate for UK prime ministership
  5. Slovakia's first female president takes office
  6. Irish immigration officers flew back business class
  7. Catalan MEP denied taking seat in European Parliament
  8. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  2. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  3. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  4. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  5. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  6. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  7. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  8. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us