BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is investigating gifts that visiting delegations received at last month's summit in St. Petersburg of leaders from the world's 20 top economies after newspaper reports alleged Russia was trying to install spyware on computers to snoop on participants.
European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said Wednesday that experts were looking into the handouts, which included USB sticks and were given out at the Group of 20 summit, but said "analysis of hardware and software have not amounted to any serious security concerns." He added the investigation had not yet been fully completed.
Italian newspapers reported early this week allegations that Russia tried to spy on participants of the G-20 summit by giving officials free equipment like USB sticks or mobile phone chargers which, once plugged in, would infect computers with spying software.
At the G-20 summit on Sept. 5-6, world leaders from countries including the U.S., China, Germany and Brazil gathered for two days of talks. Beyond economic issues, the leaders also discussed problems like the Syria civil war.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the summit's host, President Vladimir Putin, has dismissed reports of Russia spying on G-20 delegations, telling the state RIA Novosti news agency that they represented "an attempt to divert attention from real problems that dominate the agenda between European capitals and Washington to ephemeral, non-existed ones."
Most of the spying controversies around the world currently center on allegations of widespread surveillance by the U.S. on its allies, from citizens to their leaders.
Vincent also said the EU delegation would have been well prepared for such attempts, if true. He said it was a routine rule for EU diplomats and leaders to stay away from using handouts or any external equipment during foreign travel.