Middle East spy station run by UK revealed in Snowden leaks


The Independent newspaper in the UK reported that the British government maintains a spy station in the Middle East that intercepts all data and phone calls running through the region.



The United Kingdom maintains a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East that intercepts and collects emails, telephone calls and other data, according to the Independent.

The newspaper report claims that the UK collects the info on behalf of Western intelligence agencies via fiber-optic cables that run through the region.

The information collected is processed and passed to the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) as well as to the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.

The Independent says that the UK government claims that the station is necessary to prevent terror attacks and acts as an "early warning system" for potential strikes worldwide.

The location of the station has not been revealed by the Independent, which learned of the station through documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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It is believed that all the messages that run through the fiber-optic cables are scooped up, copied and then sifted through.

The news came as an uproar continued over the nine-hour detention of Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald's partner, David Miranda by UK authorities at Heathrow airport.

Miranda was held under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and the documents and electronics he was carrying were seized.

A British court ruled on Thursday that the government could not use or share the material Miranda was holding just a half hour after the UK Metropolitan police said they were launching a criminal investigation.

The police said that the tens of thousands of pages of digital documents were "highly sensitive material the disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety."

The ruling, however, said that the UK Home Office and the police could examine the data themselves to ensure that Miranda was not a terrorist.

GCHQ reportedly oversaw the destruction of the hard drives and memory chips confiscated from Miranda on which its Snowden material was saved.