Butler: I was bugged too

Former United Nations chief weapons inspector Richard Butler has said four countries bugged his conversations as he held negotiations attempting to disarm Iraq.

    Butler says he was bugged by the US, UK, France and Russia

    Responding to former British minister Clare Short's allegation that listening devices had been planted in the

    offices of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Butler said he was certain he was bugged in his time at the United

    Nations.

    "Of course I was, I was well aware of it," he told ABC radio on Friday.

    "How did I know? Because those who did it would come to me and show me the recordings that they had made on

    others to help me do my job disarming Iraq.

    "They would say 'we're just here to help you' and they would never show me any recordings they had made on me."

    Butler, executive chairman of the UN Special Commission to Disarm Iraq from 1997 to 1999, told of diplomats

    going to great lengths to keep conversations under wraps because they believed the UN headquarters in New York

    was full of spies.

    "If I really wanted to have a sensitive conversation with somebody... I was reduced to having to go either to a

    noisy cafeteria in the basement of the UN where there was so much noise around and then whisper, or literally

    take a walk in Central Park," he said.

    Butler said he was bugged by the Americans, British, French and Russians.

    "I knew it from other sources, I was utterly confident that I was bugged by at least four permanent members of

    the Security Council," he said.

    'Dirty game'

    "If I really wanted to have a sensitive conversation with somebody... I was reduced to having to go either to a

    noisy cafeteria in the basement of the UN where there was so much noise around and then whisper, or literally

    take a walk in Central Park"

    Richard Butler
    Ex-UN chief weapons inspector

    Butler said the allegations of bugging in Annan's office showed international relations could be a dirty game.

    "If ordinary people knew how dishonest the game is they would mightily object," he said.

    Meanwhile, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the country's intelligence officials had seen

    transcripts of mobile phone conversations involving Hans Blix, another former UN chief weapons inspector, that

    were supplied by either British or US intelligence services.

    "Each time he entered Iraq his phone was targeted and recorded and the transcripts were then made available to

    the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK and also New Zealand," ABC journalist Andrew Fowler said, citing

    unnamed sources.

    Prime Minister John Howard refused to comment, saying it was his policy to neither confirm nor deny

    intelligence matters.

    The United Nations has said it would be "disappointed" if Short's allegations about Annan's office being bugged

    in the lead up to the Iraq war were true.

    SOURCE: AFP


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