A French daily, ‘Le Monde’ has published top secret British surveillance documents which targeted the director of the World Trade Organization, several multinational corporations, a top French businessman, and heads of state across Africa, including Nigeria.
The leaked documents were produced in partnership with an online publication, ‘The Intercept’, and are based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, a whistleblower and ex-CIA operative.
‘Le Monde’ reports that among those who were subject to the surveillance, which involved intercepting communications as they were being beamed between satellites were Nigeria’s former president, late Umaru Yar’Adua and his private secretary. The report said Nigerian billionaire and chairman of Heirs Holdings and the United Bank for Africa, Tony Elumelu, was among prominent business figures monitored.
The report also revealed:“GCHQ spied on the employees of two major telecommunications companies – the South African firm MTN and Kuwait-based Zain. The agency focused in particular on “roaming managers” working for the companies in at least 15 African countries,” including Gabon, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Congo, and Mali.
It added: “The NSA systematically monitors telecom company employees’ emails with the explicit purpose of collecting roaming documents, which it describes as “necessary for targeting and exploitation.” In other words, roaming managers are not spied on because they are suspected of wrongdoing or because they are of political or economic interest; rather, they are merely viewed as a means to an end.”
Other targets included Ghana’s former president, John Kufuor, Sierra Leone’s former leader Ernest Koroma, the presidential palace in Luanda, Angola and Chris Kirubi, a wealthy Kenyan businessman and radio-station owner who was described by Forbes in 2011 as the country’s “most flamboyant tycoon.”