Russia Gave Out Great G20 Swag, Er, Malware: Reports

USB sticks, cables in gift bags were spy tools, say 2 papers

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 30, 2013 7:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – Amid the uproar over NSA spying come reports that Russia gave G20 delegates at last month's summit an unexpected surprise in their gift bag: malware. That's according to two Italian newspapers, which report that among the swag handed out to guests were USB sticks and cellphone recharging cables that were actually surveillance tools. "They were Trojan horses designed to obtain information from computers and cellphones," La Stampa reported, per the LA Times. The papers say the true nature of the gadgets was discovered after the president of the European Council ordered an investigation into them.

The Telegraph reports that David Cameron, at least, did not receive one of the covert spy tools. "My understanding is that the prime minister didn't receive a USB drive because I think they were a gift for delegates, not for leaders," his spokesman says. But Russia outright denies the allegations, with a spokesman for Vladimir Putin calling them "a clear attempt to divert attention from a problem that really exists: the US' spying, which is now a subject of discussion among European capitals and Washington," the Guardian reports.

  (Shutterstock)
French President Francois Hollande speaks with Russia's Vladimir Putin during a meeting with G20 leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Tatyana Zenkovich, Pool)
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