The disclosures, based on intelligence data leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, follow reports that British intelligence installs secret software to spy on selected companies and revelations earlier this month by The Independent that GCHQ operates a listening post on the roof of the UK’s Berlin embassy.
Der Spiegel said that GCHQ used “Royal Concierge” to spy on the booking arrangements of the hotels involved in order to gain information about the travel plans of diplomats and government delegations. It said the system was used to “prepare” their hotel rooms for more detailed surveillance.
The magazine said the information gained enabled the GCHQ’s so-called “technical departments” to bug the telephones and computers used by diplomats in their hotel rooms. It said “Royal Concierge” was also used to prepare the ground for the setting up of the GCHQ’s so-called “Humint Operations” – an abbreviation for “Human Intelligence” surveillance involving the deployment of agents to spy on diplomats.
Der Spiegel did not say which hotels were targeted. Contacted by the magazine, a spokesman for GCHQ said he could “neither confirm nor deny” Der Spiegel’s report.