Photos: Courtesy of La Stampa
Call it spyware swag. Italian daily La Stampa dubbed it a “poisoned gift” in an article Tuesday reporting that Russia handed out USB memory drives and phone chargers to world leaders and other participants at the St. Petersburg G20 summit in September. The flash drives, though, were equipped to collect data from the users’ computers and smartphones.
Returning from the Sept. 5 summit, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy had given his USB stick and other gadgets offered at the G20 to German services technical experts for analysis. The initial conclusions came back warning that both the USB drive and a USB charger were indeed meant to collect electronic data, and a warning was sent to other participants at the summit, La Stampa reports.
The investigation continues to see whether other participants were targeted in the spying effort. It is notable that last month’s summit came amid not only high tensions between Russia and the West over Syria, but also in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to grant temporary asylum to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden after he revealed the NSA’s massive efforts to collect electronic data from both individuals and world leaders.