The National Security Agency spied on former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during the G20 summit in London in 2009, The Guardian reported Sunday afternoon.
The Guardian’s report details how the NSA — the U.S. government’s foreign signals intelligence agency — had discovered a change in the Russian leadership communications for the summit, and also highlights how important the Royal Air Force base at RAF Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, England is for American spying.
RAF Menwith Hill is the alleged site of the ECHELON surveillance program, a global signals intelligence system that grew out of the UKUSA signals intelligence sharing agreement first signed in 1946 between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Austrialian government was the first government to acknowledge the existence of ECHELON in 1999.
The base — which enables the partner countries to intercept phone calls, emails and faxes from anywhere in the world — is linked directly to the NSA’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, and the UK’s NSA equivalent – GCHQ. It was built in 1954.
At RAF Menwith Hill, “hundreds of NSA analysts are based, working alongside liaison officers from GCHQ,” reported The Guardian.
The report comes as part of the latest disclosures in the saga of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, ahead of the G8 Summit where President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to speak Monday night about the civil war in Syria.
Snowden — a 29-year old CIA veteran and former NSA defense contractor — is currently believed to be hiding out in Hong Kong; there, pro-democracy activists have rallied in support of Snowden to resist any political pressure from Beijing to extradite him back to the U.S.
While Snowden’s disclosures have drawn attention to the fact that the U.S. government’s own domestic spying capabilities, they have also provoked anger from lawmakers and members of the national security establishment.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney called Snowden a “traitor” and considered whether he might have been collaborating with the Chinese government on Fox News Sunday.