World

Ecuador Says Its London Embassy Was Bugged

NPR | July 3, 2013 9:19 a.m.

Contributed By:

Bill Chappell

A covert microphone was found in the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador in London, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño announced at a news conference in Quito.

A covert microphone was found in the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador in London, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño announced at a news conference in Quito.

AFP, AFP/Getty Images

Ecuador’s foreign minister says a microphone has been found hidden inside the country’s embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living for the past year. The listening device was found last month, says Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, when he traveled to the embassy to meet with Assange.

The covert microphone was reportedly discovered in the office of the ambassador, Ana Alban.

“We regret to inform you that in our embassy in London we have found a hidden microphone,” Patiño said Tuesday at a news conference in Quito, according to Reuters.

Here’s more of Patiño’s statement, translated by Reuters:

“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.

“Furthermore, we first wanted to ascertain with precision what could be the origin of this interception device in the office of our ambassador.

“We are sorry to say so, but this is another instance of a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments.”

At the news conference, Patiño also said Ecuador is still reviewing the asylum application of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract worker who leaked secret documents about U.S. spy programs last month. Snowden reportedly remains in Moscow, where he awaits word on a number of asylum requests.

Patiño said his announcement should not be taken as a suggestion that the surveillance at the London embassy is connected to those activities. He noted that Ecuador “is infiltrated everywhere.”

He also said officials have told Assange to refrain from making declarations regarding Ecuador, adding that the nation also told Assange that he can remain at its embassy.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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