US, UK spies hacked Israeli air force networks: Snowden

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo taken on February 21, 2010 shows an Israeli Heron TP spy drone during a presentation to the media at the Tel Nof Air Force base, south of Tel Aviv, on February 21, 2010. (AFP)

New leaks by fugitive former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden reveal the United States and Britain monitored Israeli air force’s secret flights and communications, reports say.

The leaks point to a hacking operation dating back to 1998, Reuters reported.

Israel voiced disappointment at the disclosures published on Friday in at least two media outlets.

The spy operation, codenamed "Anarchist," was run out of a Cyprus base and also targeted other Middle East states.

Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, claimed the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart GCHQ spied on Israeli air force drone missions against Gaza, Syria and Iran.

Online publication The Intercept, which lists Snowden confidant Glenn Greenwald among its associates, ran a similar report, with what it said were hacked pictures of armed Israeli drones taken from cameras aboard the aircraft.

Israel insists that it ceased such missions since it ran US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard as an agent in the 1980s.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, said Israel was "not surprised" by the hacking described in the latest Snowden leak. "We know that the Americans spy on the whole world, and also on us, also on their friends," he said.

"But still, it is disappointing, inter alia because, going back decades already, we have not spied nor collected intelligence nor hacked encryptions in the United States," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Snowden began leaking classified intelligence documents in June 2013, revealing the extent of the NSA's spying activity.

He fled his country to avoid espionage charges and was granted asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.


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