LONDON -Documents leaked by US former spy Edward Snowden appear to show that Britain spied on foreign delegates at the 2009 London G20 meetings, a newspaper reported Monday.
Among the officials targeted were delegates from Nato ally Turkey and from fellow Commonwealth state South Africa, said British newspaper The Guardian.
Ankara has summoned Britain's charge d'affaires to demand an explanation over newspaper allegations, a foreign ministry diplomat told AFP. In the absence of the ambassador, the ministry summoned the charge d'affaires "to express our concerns over the allegations", the diplomat said on condition of anonymity, adding that Ankara was expecting an "official and satisfying explanation" from British authorities. Britain used "ground-breaking intelligence capabilities" to monitor communications between officials at the two meetings in April and September of 2009, the daily reported.
The revelations are likely to be an embarrassment to Britain, which is hosting the two-day G8 summit in Northern Ireland from Monday - the biggest gathering of international leaders since the G20 four years ago.
British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to comment on the report.
Asked whether he could guarantee his guests that no similar operation was in place as they gathered at the luxury Lough Erne resort, Cameron would not be drawn.
"We never comment on security or intelligence issues and I am not about to start now," he told Sky News television. "I don't make comments on security or intelligence issues - that would be breaking something that no government has previously done."
Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialised powers - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - are meeting at the Lough Erne luxury resort for talks set to be dominated by the Syrian conflict, tax transparency and free trade. The Guardian cited documents it had seen concerning the work of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), its electronic eavesdropping agency.
According to the files, British spies tricked delegates into using specially prepared Internet cafes. Those cafes allowed the spies to intercept communications and monitor email messages and phone calls through delegates' BlackBerry devices. GCHQ was also able to track when delegates were contacting each other and the agency targeted certain officials, including the Turkish finance minister, according to documents shown to the newspaper. They also singled out South African computers for special attention, according to one document.
Meanwhile, China on Monday dismissed as "groundless" claims that a former US intelligence contractor who is hiding in Hong Kong spied for Beijing, as state media said extraditing him back home would amount to a "betrayal". China relayed its first concrete comment on the Edward Snowden affair, a day after former US vice president Dick Cheney said he was a "traitor" who may well be acting in cahoots with Beijing's communist government.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she was surprised by revelations of mass US online surveillance and that she would call for "transparency" on its scope in talks with President Barack Obama this week.
Merkel confirmed in an interview with commercial broadcaster RTL that she would discuss with Obama an issue which has caused deep unease in Germany, where memories of the East German Stasi's spying on citizens are still raw.
"I will call for more transparency," said Merkel, who grew up in the communist East.
She was speaking ahead of a G8 summit opening in Northern Ireland on Monday and talks with Obama in Berlin on Wednesday.