Britain spied on African leaders and top businessmen, Snowden leaks reveal

December 9, 2016
The British secret services intercepted communications by President Mwai Kibaki and his closest strategic advisers/FILE
The British secret services intercepted communications by President Mwai Kibaki and his closest strategic advisers/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – Dozens of African political and business leaders had their conversations monitored by the British intelligence service between 2009 and 2010, new leaked data from the former National Security Agency (NSA) officer Edward Snowden reveals.

In documents published by the French newspaper Le Monde and online publication The Intercept, hundreds of intercepts by technicians at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) show Britain spied on leaders in at least 20 African countries.

According to Le Monde, GCHQ intercepted communications between President Mwai Kibaki and his advisers, as well as former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s private conversations.

The monitoring went beyond Presidents to Prime Ministers, diplomats, ministers, heads of key government institutions and powerful advisers.

The agency targeted key business people including Kenya’s Chris Kirubi, and Nigeria’s Tony Elumelu and Dahiru Mangal. A former ally of President Kabila and businessman, Moise Katumbi was also monitored.

Other leaders that the spy agency consistently eavesdropped through phone taps and spy bugs include Presidents Joseph Kabila of Congo, Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Nigeria’s Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan and Ghana’s John Kafuor, as well as head of states of Togo, Guinea-Conakry, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The agency, which also had operations in middle-east and Israel, set up surveillance systems to monitor telecommunications firms including MTN, Saudi Telecom, France Telecom and Orange.

GCHQ had a particular and wide-ranging interest in Nigeria where its embassies in Ankara, Pretoria, Tripoli, Yaounde and Tehran were under surveillance during the period in addition to the offices of the Nigerian ministers of foreign affairs, oil and finance.

“These actions violated the political, economic and strategic sovereignty of twenty African countries many of whose leaders were allies of Great Britain,” says Le Monde.

Snowden first shared the leaked documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, before thousands of documents were published by Washington Post, New York Times and Der Spiegel.

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