UK spied on Argentina over Malvinas: Leaks
Newly leaked documents show that Britain spied on Argentina for over a period of five years over the disputed Malvinas islands, also known as the Falklands to the British.
The UK’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) carried out an espionage program, dubbed Operation Quito, in a bid to spy on the communications of Argentinean military and political officials and spread pro-British propaganda online, Argentina’s Todo Noticias (TN) news website reported on Friday, citing the material released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The JTRIG is a unit of the British intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The “long-term, far-reaching” mission was part of Britain’s “covert interception, intervention operations and other maneuvers” on Argentina conducted between 2008 and 2011 in an attempt to prevent Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands, according to the website.
“The new, never-before-seen documents expose how (the UK’s) most secret task forces used a dirty game and systematic disinformation to launch their cyber-offensive,” the website added.
In June 2013, Snowden leaked two top secret Washington spying programs, which revealed that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and internet data.
The scandal took even broader dimensions later, when the former NSA contractor revealed information about the organization’s espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
Last month, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced a £180-million (USD 268 million) defense package over 10 years to counter what he called Argentina’s continuous intimidation in the disputed South Atlantic islands.
In response, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman denounced the move as “provocative” and filed complaints with a number of international agencies over Britain’s plans for the excessive military spending on the region.
Located about 300 miles (almost 500 kilometers) off Argentina’s coast and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, the disputed islands have been declared part of the British Overseas Territories since Britain established its colonial rule on the territories in 1833.
Argentina and Britain fought a 74-day war in 1982 over the Islands, which ended with the British side claiming victory over the Argentineans.
The United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Decolonization considers the islands as a colony, which is waiting to be decolonized.