Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:56PM GMT
Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world and spied on trading partners at the request of the US National Security Agency (NSA), a report says.
Canadian broadcaster, CBC News, published the report on Monday, revealing that the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is involved in espionage activities with its US counterpart in “approximately 20 high-priority countries.”
The report was based on a four-page “top secret” NSA memo dated April 3, 2013, which was leaked by US intelligence whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
According to US media reports, the document was not made public since it contains highly-sensitive operational details.
The briefing paper described a “close cooperative relationship” between the two countries’ spying agencies and that “both sides would like to see expanded and strengthened” ties.
“CSEC offers resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA,” read the leaked document.
In addition, the memo revealed why the NSA is interested in conducting covert spying operations with its Canadian counterpart.
“CSEC shares with the NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the US,” the document says.
Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive turned whistleblower, commented on the report, saying the revelations come as no surprise. However, he also said, “There is a clear and compelling danger to democracy in Canada by virtue of how far these secret surveillance operations have gone.”
“Just think of certain foreign agreements or relationships that Canada actually enjoys that the United States doesn’t, and under the cover of those relationships, guess what you can conduct? These kinds of secret surveillance or collection efforts,” said Drake.
Wesley Wark, a Canadian security and intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, also commented on the revelations, saying the report shows Canada’s international image as an innocent partner can be used to an advantage to secretly gather a large amount of information abroad.
“In that sense, Canadian operations might escape at least the same degree of notice and surveillance that the operations of the US or Britain in foreign states would be bound to attract,” said Wark.
The revelation was the latest of a number of reports showing the extent of Canada’s spying activities. On November 27, CBC News revealed that the two countries cooperated to allow NSA to conduct surveillance operations in Canada during the 2010 summits of G8 and G20 .
The cooperation between Canada and US intelligence agencies dates back to more than 60 years, with CSEC playing a very robust role in a way that has gained respect from the NSA.