Don`t tinker with anti-terror spy network: Cameron

Last Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 23:37

Brussels: British Prime Minister David Cameron says shared intelligence with the US has benefited EU states as an eavesdropping row pushes France and Germany to demand a new code of conduct on data-gathering.

Cameron said today he had passed on to European partners information gleaned from intelligence in cooperation with US and other allies that had helped avert terror plots.

He said anger at revelations US spies listened in to calls on German Chancellor Angela Merkel`s mobile did not mean governments should legislate to rein in "properly funded intelligence services".

Cameron endorsed an EU summit statement backing French and German moves to negotiate a new understanding on the rules of the spy game with Washington by the end of the year.

But he said media disclosures stemming from fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden which pinpointed the leaders of Brazil and Mexico among perhaps 35 international such figures targeted was harmful in the fight against terror.

The publication of the Snowden files "is frankly signalling to people who mean to do us harm how to evade and avoid" detection, he said, citing a massacre in a Kenyan mall in which at least 67 people died.

"It is going to make our world more dangerous," Cameron said.

To avoid tilting the balance in the fight against terrorism, Cameron maintained that this "means not having some lah-de-dah, airy-fairy law" drawn up at European Union level in Brussels to constrain spy operations with global importance.

"I`m satisfied we have a good framework, a framework that works," Cameron said, making reference notably to a system of cooperation known as `Five Eyes` -- a long-accepted special relationship between the United States and Britain with fellow anglo states Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

"I`ve lost count of the plots I`ve seen, information I`ve seen," Cameron said of intelligence reports landing daily in his lap.

"And I`ve shared that information with other European countries," he underlined, pointing out that the Snowden leaks are making it "a lot more difficult to keep our people safe".

Cameron said he was "very struck how colleagues don`t want a breach in this relationship," calling the plans put forward by Merkel and French President Francois Hollande "good and sensible".

He stressed, though, that "specifically for Britain, these are national responsibilities- there is no EU competence".

He refused to comment when asked if he was satisfied his own mobile had not been tapped or if he could give Merkel assurances that he had not seen reports from US partners detailing private telephone calls on her mobile.

Cameron insisted that the intelligence services in Britain are subject to the fullest possible democratic scrutiny.

AFP

First Published: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 23:37

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