In Unusual Move, British Spies Respond to Sean Spicer

GCHQ issues statement on White House allegation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2017 6:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – James Bond was not working with Barack Obama to spy on Donald Trump, or so say British spy chiefs after the White House cited a report that claimed Obama had asked UK intelligence agency GCHQ to carry out surveillance at Trump Tower. The allegations cited by press secretary Sean Spicer are "nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous, and should be ignored," says a GCHQ spokesman. While defending Trump's wiretapping allegations Thursday, Spicer mentioned a Fox and Friends report in which Fox judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed three intelligence sources had told him the Obama administration partnered with GCHQ to carry out Trump surveillance so there would be "no American fingerprints on this," the Guardian reports.

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Spicer said the Fox report and others cast "into concern some of the activities that may have occurred during the 2016 election," BuzzFeed reports. BBC security analyst Gordon Corera says it is highly unusual for GCHQ to comment on its work—and to use the phrase "utterly ridiculous"—but "it's a sign of just how seriously they take it. The allegations are so sensitive that the agency clearly felt they could not let them go unchallenged." Tim Farron, leader of Britain's Liberal Democrats party, accused Trump of "compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment." (Read more wiretapping stories.)

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