GCHQ monitoring post on British embassy's rooftop in Vienna

British Embassy in Austrian capital provides possible GCHQ monitoring base for spying, says media reports

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

According to Austrian media reports, the British embassy in Vienna is being used is a secret base for illegal monitoring and eavesdropping on behalf of the British intelligence service GCHQ.

Speaking to The Local, reporter Erich Möchel said the British Embassy, which is located in the 3rd district of the Austrian capital Vienna, had a rooftop which was very similar to the US embassies’ rooftops and was equipped with cameras, programmable antennas, transmitters and mobile phone receivers which help GCHQ monitor Austrian communication systems.

The reporter also said he believes that a similar rooftop in 9th district in Vienna and a villa in Pötzleinsdorf were also the location of more monitoring stations for the GCHQ.

Möchel added if these stations were linked to each other, “real-time mobile monitoring” would not be a problem for officials.

Officials from the British Embassy in Vienna are yet to comment on these claims.

Using information from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked documents of CIA and NSA files, Möchel also said he detected similar rooftops, which were possible monitoring sites of the NSA, near the UN headquarters last year.

Nearly 17,000 diplomats from institutions such as the UN, the OSCE and OPEC reside in Vienna.

Journalist Emil Bobi also stressed the issue of spying was a regular problem in Austria. He said that nearly 7,000 diplomats and government officials worked as possible spies.

Earlier in May, Austria lodged a complaint following a report released in Germany late last month claiming that the German BND spied on France and the European Union on behalf of the US.

Although Austrian Interior Minister Mikl-Leitner stated the government has no solid evidence, she said, “It’s not far-fetched to suspect that Austria was also spied on.”

The BND has been engrossed in a scandal with the NSA ever since US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed details of widespread spying by the NSA in 2013.

Despite the cooperation agreement between the two intelligence agencies, even German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone conversations were monitored by the NSA in a joint operation with the GCHQ.

A CIA official based at the US embassy in Berlin was later expelled after another leaked report which surfaced last July stated that a number of German officials were spied on behalf of the NSA.

In February, Austria’s Green Party claimed that US and British intelligence agencies hacked 13 million SIM cards in Austria to spy on mobile phone conversations.

TRTWorld and agencies