Checking in with 'Royal Concierge': GCHQ ran hotel surveillance ring to spy on diplomats and delegations

 

Berlin

Britain’s secret listening service, GCHQ, uses a spying system codenamed “Royal Concierge” to carry out detailed surveillance on foreign diplomats and government delegations at more than 350 hotels across the world, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.

The disclosures, based on intelligence data leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, follow reports that British intelligence installs secret software to spy on selected companies and revelations earlier this month by The Independent that GCHQ operates a listening post on the roof of the UK’s Berlin embassy.

Der Spiegel said that GCHQ used “Royal Concierge” to spy on the booking arrangements of the hotels involved in order to gain information about the travel plans of diplomats and government delegations. It said the system was used to “prepare” their hotel rooms for more detailed surveillance.

The magazine said the information gained enabled the GCHQ’s so-called “technical departments” to bug the telephones and computers used by diplomats in their hotel rooms. It said “Royal Concierge” was also used to prepare the ground for the setting up of the GCHQ’s so-called “Humint Operations” – an abbreviation for “Human Intelligence” surveillance involving the deployment of agents to spy on diplomats.

Der Spiegel did not say which hotels were targeted. Contacted by the magazine, a spokesman for GCHQ said he could “neither confirm nor deny” Der Spiegel’s report.

The disclosures are the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations about the covert activities of GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency, leaked to the media by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The intelligence leaks have revealed the existence of the GCHQ/NSA “Tempora” spying operation involving the mass surveillance of Internet, phone and email traffic which crosses the Atlantic through undersea fibre-optic cables. The British government has claimed to have had no knowledge of the programme.

Disclosures published by Der Spiegel last week said that GCHQ used doctored websites including those from the business network LinkedIn to install surveillance software on the computers of unwitting companies and individuals.

The system was said to be codenamed “Quantum Insert”. One of the targeted companies was identified as the part-state-owned Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom. Another was a concern named Mach, which is used by several mobile phone companies to coordinate international roaming traffic.

In Germany, disclosures that the NSA used an embassy listening post to bug Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone were followed a fortnight ago by an investigation by The Independent which revealed that GCHQ runs a similar listening post.

German MPs have said they are outraged that US and British intelligence spies on the politicians of a country which is their key European ally. They have called for the setting up of no-spying agreements between Washington, London and Berlin.

Germany’s two main political parties announced yesterday that they had agreed to set up a cyber security centre to establish how networks could be better protected from invasive surveillance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border