The U.K. Metropolitan police are accused of collaborating with Indian police and hackers to illegally access the emails of hundreds of activists and journalists.
A secret unit of the Metropolitan police has been partnering with hackers to monitor the emails of hundreds of political activists and journalists, according to a whistleblower familiar with the unit. The individual claims that the secret unit worked with Indian police and hackers to steal the passwords for the emails of activists, reporters, and photographers. The Guardian reports:
The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating.
Hacked passwords were passed to the Metropolitan police unit, according to the writer of the letter, which then regularly checked the emails of the campaigners and the media to gather information. The letter to Jones listed the passwords of environmental campaigners, four of whom were from Greenpeace. Several confirmed they matched the ones they had used to open their emails.
The letter details how the unit has been accessing emails of activists “for a number of years” through a relationship one officer had with police in India who then hired the hackers to gather the email passwords. The whistleblower claims that emails of two photographers working for The Guardian were also accessed. A spokesperson for The Guardian said:
Allegations that the Metropolitan police has accessed the email accounts of Guardian journalists are extremely concerning and we expect a full and thorough investigation into these claims.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is expected to investigate the claims. The IPCC has already been investigating claims that the national domestic extremism and disorder intelligence unit shredded a large number of documents over a number of days in May 2014. “Last month the IPCC said it had uncovered evidence suggesting the documents had been destroyed despite a specific instruction that files should be preserved to be examined by a judge-led public inquiry into the undercover policing of political groups,” The Guardian wrote. The author of the letter said the shredding has been taking place because “officers were engaged in illegal activities to obtain intelligence on protest groups”.
There has been no explanation as to what the Indian police or the UK police were looking for. The Guardian mentions that some of the activists were involved in environmental causes with the group Greenpeace. As TechDirt notes,
Those whose accounts were accessed were far from dangerous individuals. Although the activists may be vehemently opposed to UK government policies and the actions of several major corporations, the worst of the worst of those confirmed to be surveilled did 80 hours community service stemming from an incident where unwanted solar panels were forcibly installed on a deputy prime minister’s house.
It seems obvious the police likely had access to detailed information about protests, organizing meetings, and other private information. This could also include medical information, personal addresses, and banking records. If the letter from this apparent whistleblower is accurate it is yet another example of the global surveillance state.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact [email protected]
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