Sunday, February 29, 2004

'Britain and US Shared Transcripts After Bugging Blix's Mobile Phone': "Dr Blix said he suspected his UN office and New York home had been bugged by the United States in the run-up to war. He said bugging was to be expected between enemies, but 'here it is between people who co-operate and it is an unpleasant feeling'... Edward Mortimer, Mr Annan's director of communications, said: "There was a telephone call which was apologetic in tone but did not really amount to an admission of substance. Basically, the answer we got was the same as the Prime Minister gave at his press conference [on Thursday]. We are not complete innocents, we do realize these things happen but it was rather a shock to hear that the British government had been spying on the secretary general.""

"Mr Butler, who led the UN disarmament team in Iraq in the 1990s, UNSCOM, said he was "well aware" that he was being bugged. But he said spying on the UN was illegal and harmed the peace-making process. "What if Kofi Annan had been bringing people together last February in a genuine attempt to prevent the invasion of Iraq, and the people bugging him did not want that to happen, what do you think they would do with that information?" he said."

"The alleged bugging of Dr Blix, in charge of the last UN mission before the war, seen as the last chance to avoid war, is being viewed in diplomatic circles as part of a concerted effort to sabotage attempts at a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. Dr Blix, who retired in June, is highly critical of George Bush and Tony Blair for the claims they made about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Washington and London, he said, had aborted the search for weapons to pave the way for an invasion... he said he had expected to be bugged by the Iraqis, but the possibility that he was spied on by someone "on the same side" was "disgusting". Dr Blix said his suspicions were aroused by repeated trouble with his telephone at his New York home."

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