UK spies acquired vast amounts of communications data from Pakistan

LONDON – Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has revealed that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) agency had acquired vast amounts of communications data from inside Pakistan by secretly hacking into routers manufactured by the US company, Cisco.

In an interview with the BBC’s programme, Edward told the BBC’s Panorama that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had the power to hack into phones without their owners’ knowledge. He said that the GCHQ could gain access to a handset by sending it an encrypted text message and use it for such things as taking pictures and listening in.

According to the British Broadcast programme, the UK government had allowed to spy.  The BBC said that the government had declined to comment in line with usual policy on intelligence matters.

The former intelligence contractor spoke to Panorama in Moscow, where he fled in 2013 after leaking to the media details of extensive internet and phone surveillance by his former employer, the US National Security Agency (NSA).

He did not suggest that either GCHQ or the NSA were interested in mass-monitoring of citizens’ private communications but said both agencies had invested heavily in technology allowing them to hack smartphones. “They want to own your phone instead of you,” he said.

Snowden talked about GCHQ’s “Smurf Suite”, a collection of secret intercept capabilities individually named after the little blue imps of Belgian cartoon fame. “Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off with you knowing,” he said.

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