Top secret exposé: US spying from its KL embassy

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The United States runs a monitoring station in its Kuala Lumpur embassy to tap telephones and monitor communications networks, according to top secret documents leaked by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A map originally published by Germany magazine Der Spiegel today, and sighted by Australian dailies Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and its Fairfax Media sister publication The Age, showed 90 electronic surveillance facilities worldwide, including in US embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Yangon.

Dated August 13, 2010, the map however did not show any such facilities in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan, which are the US’ closest allies.

At the time of writing, The Malay Mail Online could not reach the US Embassy for comments.

In August, Australian intelligence sources had confirmed that top secret intelligence tool XKeyscore — which was revealed by on-the-run Snowden — has been used to spy on Malaysia among other Asia-Pacific countries.

The admission followed a leaked slideshow published by the UK’s daily The Guardian revealing in detail the US National Security Agency (NSA) program, which the newspaper claimed collects “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”.

The top secret slideshow made in 2008 revealed that the Xkeyscore program allows analysts to search through extensive database of emails, search queries, social media, online chats, and browsing histories of millions of people with no need for prior authorisation.

According to SMH today, the map revealed today showed a joint group between Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency called “Special Collection Service” conducting sweeping surveillance operation and clandestine operations against specific intelligence targets.

The map was also published in full originally in Der Spiegel’s website, but was later replaced with a censored version, which listed 90 Special Collection Service facilities, including 74 manned facilities, 14 remotely operated facilities and two technical support centres.

It was released to the “FVEY” group, which included the US’ “5-eyes” intelligence partners — the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — said SMH.

The entrance to the US embassy is pictured in Berlin October 28, 2013. A German newspaper said on Sunday that US President Barack Obama knew his intelligence service was eavesdropping as long ago as 2010. — Reuters pic
The entrance to the US embassy is pictured in Berlin October 28, 2013. A German newspaper said on Sunday that US President Barack Obama knew his intelligence service was eavesdropping as long ago as 2010. — Reuters pic

SMH had previously named Australian signals intelligence facilities at Geraldton in Western Australia, Shoal Bay near Darwin, HMAS Harman near Canberra and the US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs as contributors to the XKeyscore database.

According to Fairfax Media, Australian intelligence sources recently confirmed that Australia’s electronic espionage agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, is a “full partner” in the XKeyscore program.

Fairfax Media had in August revealed that Singaporean intelligence is partnering Defence Signals Directorate in operations to tap undersea fibre optic telecommunications cables linking Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The Xkeyscore program boasted that by 2008 over 300 terrorists had been captured from intelligence gathered by the tool.