IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

U.N. finds bug in its Geneva office

A secret listening device has been found at the Geneva offices of the United Nations, the global body announced Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A secret listening device has been found at the Geneva offices of the United Nations, the global body said Thursday.

Workers found the sophisticated eavesdropping equipment, possibly made in Russia or Eastern Europe, during renovation work this fall on a major meeting room, known as the Salon Francais, according to the French-language broadcaster Television Suisse Romande, or TSR.

Marie Heuze, spokeswoman for the U.N. offices in Geneva, confirmed the discovery of the device in a statement to TSR that was seen by The Associated Press.

“I can confirm that in the course of the renovation of the Salon Francais, workmen found what is considered to be a sophisticated listening device,” Heuze said in the statement. “An investigation failed to determine who planted the device,” it added.

Heuze wasn’t available for further comment.

The art deco Salon Francais in the United Nations’ European headquarters hosts a teleconference between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the head of the Geneva office, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, every Wednesday.

Heads of state, ministers and heads of delegations also use the room.

An internal inquiry has been ordered, but the affair has been classified top secret, said TSR, which has obtained photographs of the equipment.

“It’s a very sophisticated piece of listening equipment where the sound is picked up and immediately retransmitted,” Patrick Daniel Eugster, head of Geneva-based Surveillance Consulting Group, told TSR.

TSR showed photographs of the listening device to Eugster, who said transmissions from the device would be so short that they would be very difficult to pick up.

“We have a main transmitter with a small antenna,” Eugster said, adding that the device was “very probably” made in Russia or Eastern Europe. “There are two microphones. It was made about three or four years ago, because the different parts are quite big and the parts now on the market are a lot smaller.”

Earlier this year, a former member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Cabinet, Clare Short, said British intelligence agents spied on Annan in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Blair has refused to confirm or deny the accusation.