Sunday, 27 October 2013

US intelligence may have bugged phones of Scottish ministers over Megrahi release

[An article by Ben Borland in today’s Scottish edition of the Sunday Express reads as follows:]

American spies may have bugged Alex Salmond's phone calls and emails during the furore surrounding the release of the Lockerbie bomber, it was claimed last night.

The US National Security Agency has been accused of monitoring the mobile phones of at least 35 "world leaders", including the German chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron was forced on the defensive at an EU summit that was overshadowed by claims of snooping by the NSA and Britain's GCHQ in Cheltenham.
Now two senior Lockerbie campaigners said they believe the Americans also targeted the Scottish Government, including the First Minister and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, in 2009.
At the time, political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic were looking on anxiously as Mr MacAskill decided the fate of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
The Libyan, jailed for his part in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, had contracted terminal prostate cancer and was eventually sent back to Tripoli to die.
Despite the outraged reaction in Washington, sources close to Megrahi said the US Government appeared to have advance knowledge of Mr MacAskill's decision.
Professor Robert Black, the architect of Megrahi's trial under Scots Law, said: "From my own contacts with the Libyan regime, I was led to believe that although the Americans huffed and puffed about the release they were reconciled to it.
"I was led to understand that they knew in advance of the decision. [Former foreign minister Abdul Ati] Obeidi always told me he knew and the Americans knew, by one means or another.
"The question is whether Alex Salmond's phone was one of those with a 'flag' on it from the NSA - although I bet it wasn't until the Megrahi release.
"Now with the referendum coming up, and the future of Trident and Nato and all that sort of thing, I think it might still be flagged."
Professor Black is a founder of the Jusice For Megrahi (JFM) campaign, which is calling for a public inquiry into the conviction of the man who eventually died in 2012.
He added: "I have always had a suspicion that there was monitoring going on. When Jim [Swire] and I speak on the phone Jim will usually say 'Hi guys' to anybody who might be listening in.
"It's an assumption that those of us in JFM have always made. Although most of what we do ends up in the public domain, if there is anything sensitive we usually contact each other by snail mail."
Dr Swire, another JFM member whose daughter Flora was among the 270 people killed in the atrocity, said it was not "remotely difficult to believe" the Americans had bugged Scottish ministers.
He added: "There is no way of telling whether Kenny MacAskill or Alex Salmond have had their conversations bugged but personally I'm sure they have, whether it was by GCHQ at Cheltenham or by the Americans."
Dr Swire said he believes he has been under surveillance since the 1990s and once put the theory to the test by sending a fax containing false information to a trusted contact.
The information - which could not have come from any other source - appeared in the London Evening Standard newspaper the following day.
He said: "This indicated that my faxes in those days were being intercepted. Considering how much technology has advanced since then, I have no doubt that my emails and phone calls are actually monitored all the time."
Members of the so-called 'Five Eyes' alliance - the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada - have agreed not to spy on each other.
Both the Scottish Government and the White House press office declined to comment on the latest claims.
However, a spokesman for President Barack Obama was willing to guarantee the US has never targeted Mr Cameron - although they may have listened to his conversations with other world leaders who were under surveillance.
[I may add that it was the Sunday Express that approached Dr Swire and me with the suggestion of telephone interception, not vice versa.]


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2013 - ( google translation, geran/english):

    Even the Swiss intelligence had (or still ?) monitored the telephone fax and telex connections - also the incoming letter mail of Edwin Bollier (private) and MEBO Ltd. and gave among other things questionable informations to the U.S. and to the Scottish authorities...

    MEBO (Edwin Bollier ) got access to thousands of investigation files and phone records , from the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office , which clearly offend against the collection, processing and storage , and dissemination of personal, information by a government interference with personal liberty! Thus, this matter also injured the scope of Article 8 of the ECHR (Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, 7 July 1989 iS Gaskin , Series A , Vol 160 , § 37, and 26 March 1987 iS Leander, Series A . 116, § 48; !

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage:

  2. "Even the Swiss intelligence had (or still ?) monitored the telephone fax and telex connections - also the incoming letter mail of Edwin Bollier (private) and MEBO Ltd. and gave among other things questionable informations to the U.S. and to the Scottish authorities"...

    Forgive them. Sharing the eavesdropping on your correspondence and at same time avoiding passing 'questionable information' around is something I think not even almighty NSA could accomplish. :-)

  3. 'Yes We Scan' posters with pictures of Obama is seen on demonstrations in Washington and Berlin these days. A couple of thousand people are reported to demonstrate against Big Brother, and praising Snowden.

    Fine, but the response is far from strong enough from our leaders.

    That USA is spying on European telephone conversations without explicit approval from the nation targeted is outrageous and inexcusable.

    If a normal person in USA listens in on anyone's private conversation it is a class E felony, giving at least one year in prison, up to 5 years.

    Discussions on how far parents can go in this matters are frequent. If you have a early-teen kid that might be in trouble, can you listen in?

    Seems like all nations are now rated as potentially troublesome teenagers by USA, unless being in the Five Eyes alliance.

    In the Lockerbie matter we are up against powers like CIA/FBI who historically overwhelmingly have shown their will to lie, distort, hide, fake and commit perjury.
    That is of course not the only thing they do, but the people involved seems not to be slammed by their superiors, but first by the judges, if it comes that far. Which of course will be rare.
    'We don't accept rotten apples' is not their motto.

    Who exactly can be interested in having them listening in on whoever they want, when they want?

    How they want?

    As they say: "Just because you know you are paranoid, it doesn't mean that they are not watching you."

    Jim Swire's fax - if the made-up content ended up in a newspaper action should have been be taken. If the friend in the other end is beyond suspicion it is, in my opinion, a matter as serious as can be. It's easy to say that JS should have investigated further. It's harder to say that he does not have enough on his table already.