The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the claim that the London Metropolitan Police uses Indian hackers to read correspondence of journalists and environmental activists. The information became known from an anonymous letter addressed to Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb. It was the peer who passed the letter to the IPCC.
The writer, who said he or she had been working in an intelligence department, listed ten hacked emails with passwords. The accounts belonged to some journalists and photographers and many Greenpeace activists. The Guardian’s reporters contacted the people from the list, and those who answered shared the same password – only one of the passwords was a bit different.
The letter partly published by the Guardian reads: “For a number of years the unit had been illegally accessing the email accounts of activists. This has largely been accomplished because of the contact that one of the officers had developed with counterparts in India who in turn were using hackers to obtain email passwords.”
“It still came as a shock…”
The list of allegations mentioned in the letter is long. Baroness Jones states: “It includes illegal hacking of emails, using an Indian-based operation to do the dirty work, shredding documents and using sex as a tool of infiltration. And these revelations matter to all of us. None of us knows whether the police organised for our emails to be hacked, but all of us know the wide range of personal information that our emails contain. It might be medical conditions, family arguments, love lives or a whole range of drug- or alcohol-related misdemeanours.”
This way, the IPCC is also investigating the claim of shredding the documents, what would be an illegal practice since the police is supposed to be retaining the documents as long as an investigation goes on.
Greenpeace volunteer Cat Dorey said: “Even though Greenpeace UK staff, volunteers, and activists were always warned to assume someone was listening to our phone conversations or reading our emails, it still came as a shock to find out I was being watched by the police.”
Many other activists, politicians and journalists have expressed outrage. The police tries to prevent so called domestic terrorism, which can probably be green. Met is most of all criticized for abuse of power. Plenty of people whose emails were being monitored, had no criminal records and were not even environmental activists.