David Maynier. Image courtesy of da.org.za
According to a report by the Guardian, GCHQ accessed the DIRCO network, conducted investigations into the phone lines the South African High Commission in London uses and obtained documents from the G20 and G8 meetings approximately four years ago.
“Minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane’s handling of reports that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters targeted the South African delegation to the 2009 G20 Summit meeting in London was a ‘half job’,” said Maynier.
Maynier added: “The minister called on British government to investigate the matter fully with a view to taking strong action. However, the minister must know that GCHQ has a very broad legislative mandate and that the operation probably took place within the framework of the law in Britain.”
“The fact is that Dirco has literally been caught with their electronic pants down by Britain's GCHQ,” said Maynier.
According to Maynier, GCHQ intercepting communications of foreign delegates at international meetings is highly likely.
“Today, the Guardian reveals that GCHQ systematically tried to intercept the communication and penetrate computer networks of DIRCO since at least 2005. Reports suggest that a team responsible for ‘computer network exploitation’ at GCHQ were able to access passwords and set up back doors into Dirco’s computer network,” said Maynier.
Maynier added: “The real issue which is here is that GCHQ seems to have almost effortlessly penetrated DIRCO’s computer networks and helped themselves to briefing documents prepared for the South African delegation ahead of the 2009 G20 Summit meeting in London.”
Maynier believes this “massive breach of security” at DIRCO is a good reason to investigate it. He said since GCHQ was able to access Dirco’s networks and retrieve briefing documents raises the concern of what else GCHQ managed to acquire.
Maynier said South Africa’s State Security Agency would be responsible for the “security of the various platforms penetrated by Britains GCHQ”.
“That is why we will... be writing Cecil Burgess, chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) to investigate this matter as soon as possible,” concluded Maynier.