Wednesday

19th Sep 2018

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. EU investigating BMW, Daimler and VW 'collusion'
  2. Spain wants special Gibraltar chapter in Brexit deal
  3. Italy cancels Vienna talks over South Tyrol 'dual citizenship'
  4. Britain will not accept Brexit deal with Irish Sea border
  5. Slovakia seeks witness to journalist killing
  6. Finland's Stubb considers running for EU commission job
  7. Romania ponders anti same-sex marriage referendum
  8. EU lawyers back Slovenia in Croatia border dispute

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  2. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers
  3. Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal
  4. New book: Why war is coming
  5. EU parliament will not budge on office expenses
  6. Why Orban's project to reshape EU politics will be unsuccessful
  7. 10 years after Lehman Brothers what has changed for EU consumers?
  8. Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us