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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 March, 2003, 16:55 GMT
EU investigates mystery buggings
Council of Europe's Justus Lipsius building where bugs were found
German, French and UK equipment was bugged

European Union officials have launched an investigation after bugging devices were found at offices used by several delegations - including those of France, Germany and the UK.

Extra security measures have been adopted ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

Spanish, Italian and Austrian offices had also been bugged, officials said.

The discovery of the telephone tapping systems was first reported on Wednesday by France's Le Figaro newspaper, which blamed the US.

I don't know who was on the other end of the line
Dominique-Georges Marro
EU spokesman
But EU spokesman Dominique-Georges Marro said it was "impossible at this stage" to determine who had planted the devices.

A spokesman at the UK mission to the EU said the discovery was a matter of "considerable concern".

The telephone tapping comes at a time of heightened tensions within the EU - which is deeply divided over Iraq - and of worsening relations between the US and EU members France and Germany.

To all those who feel that it necessary to tap our phones, we say that that Europe is a very transparent organisation... they shouldn't go to such lengths to try to find out information
George Papandreou
Greek Foreign Minister
The EU spokesman said the wiretapping had been discovered during a routine inspection on 28 February.

We do not know who is behind it. I don't know who was on the other end of the line," said Mr Marro.

Greece, which currently holds the EU's revolving presidency, criticised whoever planted the devices.

"The first thing I can do is to condemn this act," said Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Engineer inside building
Officials are trying to find out where the devices came from
"To all those who feel that it necessary to tap our phones, we say that that Europe is a very transparent organisation... they shouldn't go to such lengths to try to find out information."

Investigators from the affected countries were looking into the phone tapping, along with the EU's own security services, officials said.

The Justus Lipsius building, where the bugging devices were found, is a regular meeting place for EU ministers.

It houses the secretariat of the EU Council of Ministers.

The bloc's foreign ministers have been meeting there this week.

The building also houses the offices of the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Widespread Iraq fallout
18 Mar 03 |  Middle East


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