Cyprus: Home of the UK’s secret Middle Eastern internet surveillance base

Graham Cluley

Italian newspaper l’Espresso appears to have something of a scoop on its hands, as it reveals for the first time the location of a secret internet surveillance HQ, based overseas but run by Britain.

Cyprus base

The paper claims that a secret base on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, acts as hub for British and United States surveillance on the Middle East and surrounding regions, intercepting huge numbers of emails, phone calls and web traffic.

The Internet monitoring occurs at the Ayios Nikolaos intelligence station, part of Britain’s Eastern Sovereign Base Area. It is possible to see the top secret intelligence base on Google Earth: a cluster of operations buildings, several eavesdropping satellite dishes and nearby a large circular radio direction-finding antenna system, a tell-tale sign of signals intelligence bases.

The targets of the Cyprus intelligence operations will typically include the government leaders in all the surrounding countries and other senior public, business and military leaders. Following the pattern of British and US spying in other regions, it will also include United Nations agencies, trade organisations, private companies, police forces, militaries and political groups.

Interestingly, earlier reports in The Guardian and Independent newspaper have previously referred to the base, but declined to reveal its location.

Guardian newspaper report
Guardian newspaper report from June 2013
Report from The Independent
The Independent report from August 2013

But now, the cat appears to be out of the bag.

The latest revelation from the top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden has revealed the base’s location, and potentially made it a target for those in the Middle East who take unkindly to being snooped upon by Britain and America.

Read the full story on the l’Espresso website.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

2 Replies to “Cyprus: Home of the UK’s secret Middle Eastern internet surveillance base”

  1. I can understand GCHQ and CIA/NSA monitoring radio and satellite communications from here but I was not aware Cyprus was an internet hub as well.

    EDIT:
    Appears I am wrong.

  2. I believe this was discussed a couple months ago relative to the Syria chemical weapons attack. Israel claimed it intercepted Syrian Army officers discussing the attack. But a British politician pointed out that Britain had a VERY sophisticated SIGINT base on Cyprus that would have detected the target – but didn't.

    Here's the piece:

    The Troodos Conundrum: Syria and the Cyprus US-UK Intelligence Monitoring Station
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-troodos-conundrum-syria-and-the-cyprus-us-uk-intelligence-monitoring-station/5347871

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