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Furbies banned at US spy base

THE FURBY was one of the best-selling toys in America last Christmas. But now, the hirsute mechanical playmate has been branded a threat to national security, joining drug smugglers and arms traders as the latest target of US intelligence.

The National Security Agency, America's equivalent of GCHQ, has banned Furbies from its premises.

The toy mimics the speech of its owners, and gradually developing its own language. That could be a risk in a building where much of the talk is top- secret, the NSA has decided.

In other words, having asked endearingly for a cookie, the Furby might then suggest bugging the Russian embassy and intercepting wireless traffic from the Iraqi military.

Perhaps, in the long term, the playthings might make valuable additions to the staff of GCHQ. At least they would never go on strike.