A hidden microphone has been found in the office of Ecuadorian ambassador to Britain Ana Alban as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains holed up in the building for fear of arrest by the British police.
Ecuador has granted Assange asylum, but London has refused to allow him safe passage outside Britain saying he must be extradited to Sweden where he is wanted in connection with a sexual abuse case.
Assange says the extradition is a cover to later extradite him to the US where he will face serious charges over leaking of the hugely-embarrassing US diplomatic cables in 2010.
The embassy is under 24-hour watch by the London Metropolitan Police who are instructed to put the Australian under arrest if he ever exits the embassy building.
The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said they have yet no clues as to who planted the bug, found last month.
“We regret to inform you that in our embassy in London we have found a hidden microphone,” he said.
“I didn’t denounce this at the time because we didn’t want the theme of our visit to London to be confused with this matter,” he added.
Patino later condemned the development as “another instance of a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments”, suggesting his country suspects British spy agencies are behind the move.
Britain has recently faced outrage especially by his European allies, including Germany and France, over revelations that it has been tapping a cable carrying global internet and phone communications for the past 18 months and sharing it with the US, under an operation codenamed Tempora.
The British government will find itself in the middle of another international dispute if its spy agencies are behind the bugging of the Ecuadorian embassy because any such move will be impossible without ministerial consent.