Saturday

21st Oct 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.”

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.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks