Ecuador asks UK for help on embassy bug

05.07.2013 16:37

Ecuador has asked the UK to help an
investigation over alleged spying at
its embassy in London where
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is
Ecuador named a British company it
claimed planted a listening device in their
ambassador's office but this was denied.
Mr Assange has been staying at the
embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.
He is wanted there for questioning over
allegations by two women of sexual
offences - which he denies.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told a
news conference in Quito the bug was
found last month when Ecuadorean
technicians reviewed the embassy's
The purpose of the bug, which was
hidden inside an electrical socket, was to
listen to the conversations of
Ambassador Ana Alban in her office, Mr
Patino said.
Mr Assange lives and works in a different
room in the embassy.
'Wholly untrue'
Mr Patino said: "We have reason to
believe that the bugging was carried out
by The Surveillance Group Limited, one
of the largest private investigation and
covert surveillance companies in the
United Kingdom."
The system worked with a Sim card and
could be activated by a call from any
mobile or fixed-line phone, he added.
The Surveillance Group, which is based
in Worcester said Mr Patino's allegation
was "wholly untrue".
Chief executive Timothy Young said: "We
have this morning heard an accusation
the source of which is apparently
Ricardo Patino, the Ecuadorean foreign
minister suggesting that we have bugged
the Ecuadorean embassy.
"This is completely untrue. The
Surveillance Group do not and have
never been engaged in any activities of
this nature.
"We have not been contacted by any
member of the Ecuadorean government
and our first notification about this
incident was via the press this morning."
The UK and Ecuador have failed to reach
agreement on how to deal with Julian
Assange, who faces arrest if he leaves the
Ecuadorean embassy.
Mr Patino wants the UK to guarantee Mr
Assange safe passage to Ecuador, but the
UK maintains it has a legal obligation to
extradite him to Sweden.
Mr Assange's organisation Wikileaks says
it is advising US intelligence leaker
Edward Snowden, who is reportedly
seeking asylum in more than 20
countries to avoid extradition to the US.
Mr Snowden, who is currently thought to
be in Moscow airport, is wanted on
charges of leaking secrets he gathered
while working as a contractor for the
National Security Agency - America's
electronic spying agency.