Benjamin Netanyahu denies SPYING on Donald Trump’s calls after ‘Israeli’ Stingray devices are discovered close to the White House
- Israel planted mobile phone spy gear close to the White House, a report claims
- Netanyahu denied the allegation on Thursday and Trump backed him
- Stingrays – which capture call data and locations – are said to have been used
- Netanyahu emphatically stated that Israel has no espionage operation in the US
Israel has been accused of planting mobile phone eavesdropping technology close to the White House to spy on Donald Trump’s calls.
President Benjamin Netanyahu denied the report on Thursday and President Donald Trump said he believed him.
Known as Stingrays, the technology mimics cellphone towers and dupes mobile phones into connecting to them, capturing locations, call data and identities.
Speaking on a trip to Russia, Netanyahu emphatically denied eavesdropping, saying he had forbidden any spying against the United States.
President Donald Trump (pictured in the Oval Office) said he didn’t believe the claims against Israel
President Benjamin Netanyahu denied the report yesterday (pictured: Netanyahu during a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at Bocharov Ruchei residence on Thursday)
‘I have a directive: no intelligence connection in the United States, no spying,’ he said. ‘It’s rigorously enforced without any exception. It’s a complete fabrication.’
Politico reported that US officials believe Israelis were most likely behind several Stingray scanners, also known as IMSI-catchers, that were discovered in downtown Washington in 2017.
Several former national security officials claimed that forensic analysis on the devices by the FBI and other agencies tied them to Israeli agents.
The devices are understood to have been used to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials told Politico, as well as his closest advisers.
Trump, who calls himself the most pro-Israel president in US history, told reporters at the White House that he doesn’t believe the allegations.
‘I don’t think the Israelis were spying on us. I would find that hard to believe,’ he said.
Previous reports have claimed Trump is remarkably relaxed about using an unsecured mobile phone and last year it was alleged that ‘Chinese spies are often listening’ to the president’s calls.
Trump responded then, that the article was ‘so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.’
The discovery of the Stingray devices is understood to have been registered by the Department of Homeland Security.
After forensic evaluation of the electronics, ‘It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,’ a former senior intelligence official told Politico.
Earlier, Israel’s foreign and intelligence minister, Israel Katz, said the country ‘does not conduct any espionage missions in the United States.’
‘The United States and Israel share between them a great deal of intelligence information and work together to prevent threats and to strengthen the security of the two states,’ he said.
Stingrays are increasingly used by police in criminal investigations to intercept cell phone activity by suspects, and have become a focus of controversy for their use without warrants.
The devices are said to have been planted close to the White House and other sensitive locations in Washington
Two years ago an unknown number of the devices were discovered inside Washington during a Department of Homeland Security test project investigating the risk posed by the devices.
Their discovery included ‘locations in proximity to potentially sensitive facilities like the White House,’ DHS said in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden in May 2018.
But those responsible for putting them in place were never identified.
They could have been potentially useful at the time in monitoring Trump, who was known to use an unsecured cell phone for phone calls and text messages.