British Intelligence Spied on Israeli Diplomats, Snowden Leaks Reveal

Britain’s GCHQ reportedly collected information on the second highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli envoys to Nigeria and Kenya.

Edward Snowden addresses the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark, June 28, 2016.
Scanpix Denmark, Reuters

British intelligence spied on Israeli diplomats and defense firms in addition to its military, the French daily Le Monde reported based on leaked documents.

The report Wednesday was based on documents that came into the possession of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for U.S. intelligence before publishing in 2013 classified material and fleeing to Russia, Le Monde reported.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s GCHQ intelligence-gathering apparatus collected information on a person described by Le Monde as the second highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry. That person was not named. The British also spied on the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

Email correspondence belonging to the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya was also the subject of British intelligence-gathering efforts as was Ophir Optronics, a firm deemed to be tied to the Israeli defense establishment that specializes in fiber optics.

The Le Monde report followed a previous publication based on documents stolen by Snowden dealing with spying by U.S. and British intelligence on Israeli military aircraft.

GCHQ and its American counterpart, the NSA, had collected for 18 years drone transmissions after cracking the Israeli army’s encryption for communication among fighter jets, drones and army bases.

The information was reported in January by The Intercept and the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

Britain and the United States reportedly have used this access to monitor Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip, watch for a potential strike on Iran and keep tabs on the drone technology that Israel exports.