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Archive for Friday, February 27, 2004

Ex-British official says U.N. calls intercepted

February 27, 2004

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— British intelligence agents were involved in intercepting conversations of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the Iraq war, according to a former Cabinet member in Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration who said she read the transcripts.

The unusual revelation by Clare Short, former international development secretary, made public what has long been an unspoken assumption among foreign diplomats in the United States: that their phone calls and office conversations are routinely intercepted by the National Security Agency and its British equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters, which work closely together.

"I have seen transcripts of Kofi Annan's conversations," Short told a British Broadcasting Corp. interviewer. "Indeed, I have had conversations with Kofi in the run-up to war thinking, 'Oh dear, there will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and I are saying.'"

Short's statement put Blair in the awkward position of denouncing her indiscretion without admitting the truth of her claim.

A spokesman for Annan said that if the charges were true, Annan was "disappointed" and wanted the eavesdropping stopped.

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