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Subject: UK spied on UN's Kofi Annan
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 23:40:41 +0100
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4522.1200
Thursday 26 February 2004
UK 'spied on UN's Kofi Annan'
"I have had conversations with Kofi in the run up to the war thinking
'oh dear, there will be a transcript of this and people will see what
he and I are saying"
-- Clare Short, Ex-Cabinet minister --
British spies listened in to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's office in
the run up to the Iraq war, former UK cabinet minister Clare Short says.
Ms Short said she had read transcripts of some of Mr Annan's conversations.
She said she recalled thinking, as she talked to Mr Annan: "Oh dear,
there will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and
I are saying."
Tony Blair said the claims were "deeply irresponsible" and appeared to
cast doubt on her future as a Labour MP.
Short's future ?
UN officials said they did not know whether the allegations were true
or not, but say such actions would have been illegal.
The secretary general's spokesman, Fred Eckhardt, said Mr Annan had
nothing to hide and that anyone who wanted to know his opinion on an
issue just had to ask him to his face.
At his monthly news conference the prime minister was repeatedly asked
about Ms Short's comments.
Mr Blair said : "I'm not going to comment on the work of our security
services - do not take that as an indication that the allegations made
by Clare Short are true.
"I really do regard what Clare Short has said this morning as totally
irresponsible, and entirely consistent."
Asked whether she should be prosecuted or face Labour Party discipline
Mr Blair said he would "have to reflect upon" her comments, adding :
"There will obviously be issues that arise... I am not in a position
to answer them at the moment."
He insisted the UK security services acted in accordance with domestic
and international law and in the best interests of this country, but the
UN said any British spying on Mr Annan would be illegal.
Ms Short's comments came the day after the dramatic collapse of the trial
of GCHQ whistle-blower Katharine Gun.
She had been accused of leaking a secret e-mail from US spies apparently
requesting British help in bugging UN delegates ahead of the Iraq
The government says it will review whether changes are needed to the
Official Secrets Act in the wake of the case.
But it has denied claims the move to drop the case was politically
There has been speculation ministers were worried about the disclosure of
secret documents during the trial, particularly the advice from Attorney
General Lord Goldsmith about the legality of war.
Lord Goldsmith said in a statement to the House of Lords: "It was a
decision on solely legal grounds ... and free from any political
Spies there 'for some time'
He said that although they believed they could prove the Official Secrets
Act had been breached, they had concluded they could not disprove Mrs Gun's
defence "of necessity" - believed to refer to her case that she felt a
duty to do something to save lives in an unlawful war.
However, Mr Blair said it would be a "very dangerous situation" if people
thought they could just "spill out allegations, whether false or true ...
and get away with it".
During an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme Ms Short said
British spies were involved in bugging Mr Annan's office in the run
up to war with Iraq.
"The UK in this time was also getting spies on Kofi Annan's office and
getting reports from him about what was going on," she said.
"These things are done and in the case of Kofi's office, it was being
done for some time."
Asked if Britain was involved in this, she replied; "Well I know - I've
seen transcripts of Kofi Annan's conversations.
Asked to confirm if British spies were instructed to carry out operations
within the UN on people like Mr Annan, she said : "Yes, absolutely."
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said that many UN officials
always worked on the basis that they were being bugged.
But, he added, "that is not to say that it is acceptable if they are
not suspected of terrorism or other crimes".
Conservative leader Michael Howard said the situation was
"a complete mess".
"It's about time the prime minister got a grip on it and sorted it
out," he said.
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said it was not good enough for
Mr Blair to say he could not comment on the security services - especially
after publishing intelligence in his Iraq dossiers.
"Tony Blair must now come clean about this central accusation," he said.
"The UK in this time was also getting spies on Kofi Annan's office
and getting reports from him about what was going on"
Listen to the full Today programme interview :
19 January 2004 By BOB HERBERT The New York Times
A Single Conscience v. the State
Katharine Gun has a much better grasp of the true spirit of democracy
than Tony Blair.
So, naturally, it's Katharine Gun who's being punished.
Ms. Gun, 29, was working at Britain's top-secret Government
Communications Headquarters last year when she learned of an American
plan to spy on at least a half-dozen U.N. delegations as part of the
U.S. effort to win Security Council support for an invasion of Iraq.
The plans, which included e-mail surveillance and taps on home and
office telephones, was outlined in a highly classified National
Security Agency memo.
The agency, which was seeking British assistance in the project, was
interested in "the whole gamut of information that could give U.S.
policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals."
Countries specifically targeted were Angola, Cameroon, Chile,
Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan.
The primary goal was a Security Council resolution that would give the
U.S. and Britain the go-ahead for the war.
Ms. Gun felt passionately that an invasion of Iraq was wrong --
morally wrong and illegal.
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