GCHQ arrest over Observer spying report
Bright, home affairs editor
An employee at the top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been arrested following revelations in The Observer last weekend about an American 'dirty tricks' surveillance operation to win votes at the United Nations in favour of a tough new resolution on Iraq.
Gloucestershire police confirmed last night that a 28-year-old woman was arrested last week on suspicion of contravening the Official Secrets Act. The woman, from the Cheltenham area, has been released on police bail pending further inquiries. More arrests are expected.
A top-secret memo from the National Security Agency, which monitors communications around the world, was passed to this newspaper by British security sources who objected to being asked to aid the American operation. The leak marks a serious breach between the Blair government and elements of the intelligence community opposed to using British security resources to help the US drive towards war.
Officials at GCHQ, the electronic surveillance arm of the British intelligence service, were asked by the Americans to provide valuable information from 'product lines', intelligence jargon for phone taps and e-mail interception. The document was circulated among British intelligence services before being leaked.
A GCHQ spokesman confirmed last night that the woman was an employee.