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‘Infiltrated from all sides’: Bug found in London’s Ecuadorian embassy

Published time: July 03, 2013 09:35
Edited time: July 04, 2013 10:04
Police officers stand outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (AFP Photo)

Police officers stand outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (AFP Photo)

A hidden microphone has been discovered in the Ecuadorian ambassador’s office in London, said Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino. He denounced the find as yet more evidence of the loss of ethics at an international level in government relations.

“We regret to inform that we have found a hidden microphone in the London embassy,” said Patino at a press conference He added that he had received intelligence that pointed at the origin of the security breach and would reveal it later on Wednesday.

The device itself had been discovered almost three weeks ago on June 16 in the office of the Ecuadorian Ambassador to the UK, Ana Alban, in a routine security check ahead of Patino’s visit.

“I did not bring this up before because I didn’t want my visit to London to hold talks on Julian Assange to be confused with accusations over this surveillance device found in the ambassador’s office,” he told press.

The head of the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry stated that he would have to consult with President Rafael Correa on the issue and they would require an explanation from the country responsible.

Moreover, Patino clarified that he was not insinuating this discovery had anything to do with the US spy network, revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Patino went on to voice his concerns that the Ecuadorian government was being “infiltrated from all sides.”

“This is a testament to the loss of ethics at an international level in the relations that we have with other governments,” noted Patino. 

Ecuadorean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patino speaks during a press conference in Quito on July 2, 2013. (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Buendia)

During his visit to London, Patino held negotiations with his British counterpart, William Hague, to push for the safe-conduct of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to Ecuador where he has been granted asylum. Assange has now been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year as UK authorities threaten to arrest him if he sets foot outside the diplomatic mission. 

The British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador and reiterated their commitment to extradite the whistleblower to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over accusations of sexual assault.

Ecuador is also currently assessing the asylum request of former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who is held up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He is currently unable to travel as his passport is invalid.

Washington has issued an extradition order against Snowden under the espionage act and called for international cooperation in returning him to American jurisdiction.

The US threatened the Ecuadorian government with taking away a lucrative customs tax agreement if the Latin American country grants Snowden asylum.

The Ecuadorean government reacted with ire, stating that in the face of “insolence” and “threats,” Ecuador will renounce its trade benefits with the US.