Russian hosts of the
A Kremlin spokesman denied the allegations reported by Il Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, both of which attributed their stories to findings of technical investigations ordered by the president of the European Council and carried out by German intelligence.
"They were Trojan horses designed to obtain information from computers and cellphones," the paper said.
The bugging devices were included in gift bags given to all delegates who attended the Sept. 5-6 summit at the palace in Stelna, outside of St. Petersburg, the newspapers said.
Suspicions about the drives and rechargers were first raised by
Van Rompuy. from Belgium, ordered technical analysis of the devices by intelligence experts in Brussels and Bonn, the newspapers said. Initial investigation found "the USB sticks and the recharge cables are suitable for undercover detection of computer data and mobile phones," the Italian newspapers said Van Rompuy reported to G20 members in a confidential memo.
Further tests are underway on the devices, and any official response to the Russian government's alleged espionage attempts would depend on those findings, the articles said, quoting an unnamed
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov denied the allegations of attempted spying and accused Western governments of trying to divert attention away from the scandals caused by disclosures that the U.S.
"It is definitely nothing other than an attempt to switch attention from the problems that really exist, which dominate the agenda between the European capitals and Washington, to problems that are ephemeral and nonexistent," Peskov said, according to the Voice of Russia broadcast.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been cool since former NSA contractor
British media carried extensive excerpts of the Italian newspapers' reports and official British reaction. The Telegraph coverage included an unnamed diplomat's disparaging remarks characterizing the reported Russian bugging attempt as a "schoolboy error" sure to be detected by any of the attending nations' security services.