Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


UK spies track diplomats by hotel bookings

18 November 2013, 12:39

Berlin - Britain's electronic eavesdropping service keeps tabs on foreign diplomats by monitoring their hotel bookings, a German magazine reported on Sunday citing leaks provided by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

News weekly Der Spiegel said that for more than three years, the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had a system to watch reservations at least 350 upscale hotels around the globe.

"The aim of the programme is to inform GCHQ, at the time of the booking, of the city and hotel a foreign diplomat intends to visit," Spiegel said, allowing the "technical operations community" to swing into action before the envoy's arrival.

This can include monitoring a hotel room and its guest by wiretapping the telephone and fax machine, gaining access to computers hooked up to the hotel network, or eavesdropping on the diplomat in the hotel bar, the report said.

The programme, given the codename "Royal Concierge", uses a logo with a penguin - meant to stand for the black and white uniforms worn by staff at top hotels - wearing a crown, a purple cape and holding a wand.

Spiegel said it was unclear how often the programme had been used. It quoted a GCHQ official as saying the service "neither confirms nor denies the allegation".

"We are not going to comment on this report," added a British government spokesperson to AFP.

Britain's top spy chiefs reacted angrily to leaks by Snowden, a fugitive former analyst for the US National Security Agency, in an appearance this month before a parliamentary committee.

Denying Britons were under mass surveillance, the heads of the foreign spy agency MI6, the domestic intelligence service MI5 and GCHQ warned that al-Qaeda and other enemies were "lapping up" intelligence revelations by Snowden and using them to change the way they operate.

The leaks have also strained relations with key partners.

Germany's foreign ministry on 5 November called in Britain's ambassador over a media report that London has been operating a secret listening post from its embassy in Berlin.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Mudavadi given permission to join...

Musalia Mudavadi has been ghranted permission by his party to join the CORD Coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
EACC officers raid Deputy Governo...

EACC officers raided the home of a Deputy Governor as theft case continues in court. Read more...