Singapore, Seoul key players in 'Five Eyes' spy ring

Leaked NSA map confirms Singapore and South Korea as key "third players" supporting the United States government's "Five Eyes" surveillance network.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore and South Korea played key roles aiding Australia and the United States to tap undersea telecommunication cables linking Asia, the Middle East and Europe, further leaks from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's documents revealed. 

A report last night by Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, published a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) map that revealed the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" spy network monitored high-speed fiber cables at 20 locations across the globe. This surveillance alliance comprised nations such as Australia, the U.K., and Canada, which exchanged spy information and operations involved cooperation with local telcos. 

The map confirmed Singapore and South Korea as key "third parties" working with the Five Eyes network, according to Brisbane Times which cited NRC Handelsblad's report. It also revealed the U.S. had access to trans-Pacific communications channels with interception facilities on the West coast as well as Hawaii and Guam, with the ability to tap network traffic across the Pacific Ocean and between Australia and Japan. 

A Sydney Morning Herald report in August revealed Singapore carrier, SingTel, had been facilitating intelligence agencies with access to traffic carried by the SEA-ME-WE-3 cables, linking Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Citing Australian intelligence sources, the report said the security and intelligence division of Singapore's Ministry of Defence co-operated with Australia's Defence Signals Directorate in sharing communications carried over the SEA-ME-WE-3 as well as the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that runs from Singapore to southern France.

SingTel and Singapore's Ministry of Defence then had declined to comment on the reports.  

The NSA map also revealed South Korea as another key interception point with cable landings at Pusan, providing access to the external communications of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It further indicated undersea cables were accessed by the NSA and British GCHQ through military facilities in Djibouti and Oman, providing comprehensive coverage of Middle East and South Asian communications.

Last week, leaked documents from Snowden revealed Australia had tapped the phones of several top Indonesian government officials including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife, as well as the state secretary, promoting Yudhoyono to freeze all military and intelligence cooperation with Australia. 

Further leaks last week indicated NSA had spied on its own "Five Eyes" partners, despite pledging not to spy on each other. Over the weekend, new information from Snowden showed NSA had infected over 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malware designed to steal confidential information.  

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