- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apparently, America isn’t the only country to spy on neighbors and world leaders. Russia gave out goodie bags filled with USB drives and telephone chargers at the recent G-20 summit in St. Petersburg — but the devices were designed to download the users’ information and pass it along to intelligence agents at the Kremlin.

The spy mission went forth at last month’s gathering of world leaders — at the same conference where President Obama and President Putin supposedly warmed their frosty relations, The New York Post reported.

The crafty plan was first reported in Italian newspapers on Tuesday. It was discovered after European Union President Herman Van Rompuy followed an instinct about the devices in the bling bag — and about the red-and-blue “Russia G20” logo they touted — and asked intelligence experts to check them out.

German security experts said the three-pronged phone chargers were actually capable of tapping into emails, text messages and telephone calls. The USB thumb drives were a “poisoned gift” from Mr. Putin, the Italian newspaper opined.

All delegates at the summit received the bags. But it wasn’t clear if leaders actually used the items, The New York Post reported.

Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, issued a quick denial: “It is definitely nothing other than an attempt to switch attention from the problems that really exist.”

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