Turkey summons UK charge d'affaires over spying claims

17th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

Turkey on Monday summoned Britain's charge d'affaires to demand an explanation over allegations that Britain spied on Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek's emails and phone calls during a G20 meeting in London in 2009.

The ministry summoned the charge d'affaires "to express our concerns over the allegations", a foreign ministry diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that Ankara was expecting an "official and satisfying explanation" from British authorities.

British newspaper the Guardian reported that documents leaked by US former spy Edward Snowden appear to show that Britain spied on foreign delegates including fellow NATO member Turkey at G20 meetings four years ago.

Turkey's foreign ministry said earlier it had contacted British authorities over the allegations, saying that if the report was true, "such an action by an ally country is unacceptable".

"This will constitute a scandal in terms of relations between the two countries if any truth is found in the allegations," it said in a statement.

As with the other G20 participants who were reportedly spied on, including South Africa, there is no suggestion that Simsek and his party were involved in any kind of criminal offence, according to the newspaper.

The newspaper said it had seen a document showing that Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), its electronic eavesdropping agency, put Simsek under surveillance while in London, and possibly up to 15 members of his delegation.

The document said the objective was "to establish Turkey's position on agreements from the April London summit" and their "willingness (or not) to cooperate with the rest of the G20 nations".

According to the leaked files seen by the Guardian, British spies tricked delegates into using specially prepared Internet cafes. Those cafes allowed the spies to intercept communications and monitor email messages and phone calls through delegates' BlackBerry devices.

© 2013 AFP

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