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[] militärische US/UK/ES SIGINT-Stationen in Spanien,

Mal war anderes als der Irak-Krieg. Das kommt einem ja mittlerweile
schon off-topic vor. ;-)


Secret military telecommunications interception stations in Madrid,
Conil de la Frontera, Gibraltar and Rota

"Libertad Vigilada" (Freedom under Surveillance), a recently published
book by Nacho Garcia Mostazo, analyses the presence in Spain of a number
of stations for the interception of telecommunications and to conduct
signals intelligence operations that are run separately by the Spanish,
British and US military. It focuses on two secret Spanish military
intelligence establishments, one near Madrid and the other in Conil de
la Frontera, near Cadiz, two military installations run by the UK
military in Gibraltar, and another by the US military in its airbase in
Rota, also near Cadiz. These are deemed to violate the constitutional
guarantee of privacy for the telecommunications of Spanish citizens.
Foreign intelligence agencies are only forbidden from intercepting
telecommunications of their own nationals. In the case of domestic
military intelligence structures, these are subject to less democratic
control and regulation than their civilian counterpart, the
newly-established National Intelligence Centre.

The Fresnedillas-Navalagamella Satellite Monitoring Station in the
mountain range (Sierra) located to the north of Madrid is allegedly
being used to intercept satellite communications of the countries
surrounding Spain, and possibly civilian communications within Spain
itself. The base is owned by the Ministry of Defence and is shrouded in
secrecy. Defence minister Trillo Figueroa denies the institution's
ownership of the station although it pays 11,713.52 euros annual tax on
the property, and claims that activities conducted there are "a
mystery". Ten large parabolic antennae with diameters of over 18 metres
are found at the base, as well as six smaller ones; their inclination
indicates that they may be aimed at geo-stationary telecommunication
satellites hovering above the equator at an altitude of around 36,000
km. The author stresses that the European Parliamentary Commission that
investigated the Echelon affair concluded that "if two or more satellite
reception antennae of over 18 metres (in diameter) can be found at a
(military) station, it is certain that civil communications are listened
to there".

It is significant that the station is run by the military. The former
Spanish intelligence agency (CESID) was run by the military, and was
recently replaced by a civilian agency, the CNI (National Intelligence
Centre, see Statewatch vol 11 no 3 & 4). This change was partly
motivated by a lack of accountability, and of a clear legal basis for
interception, that resulted in the illegal interception of Spanish
citizens in the past. The CNI is subject to interception guidelines
requiring a judicial warrant for the interception of communications
involving Spanish citizens, which are protected from interference by the
Spanish constitution, although telephone tapping was not regulated until
the new law was passed last year.

The author of "Libertad Vigilada" says that the parallel activities of
military structures and personnel may be used to circumvent the
limitations that have been introduced. They support this notion by
noting that at the same time as the CNI laws were passed, the Ministry
of Defence set up the so-called Armed Forces Intelligence Centre (AFIC -
CIFAS in Spanish) to enable "the process of rationalising the
intelligence capabilities of the Defence, Army and Navy Staff". AFIC is
not regulated by any law, other than a ministerial order specifying its
internal organisation. The authors also note that a secret military
project approved in 1986, and known as the "Santiago programme", is due
to be fully operational by 2008. It is reportedly aimed at "capturing
electro-magnetic broadcasts and images in zones defined as of strategic
interest for national security". Thus, in spite of the official military
intelligence agency being shut down:

"Spain has a military espionage network composed of surveillance planes
(the Air Intelligence Centre at Torrejon de Ardoz), observation
satellites (Helios and others that will soon be launched) and land bases
- although the system is not yet complete"

A secret intelligence operation in Conil de la Frontera was set up
jointly by former Spanish intelligence agency CESID and its German
counterpart, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), in 1975 as part of
"Operation Delikatesse". It was aimed at intercepting telecommunications
passing through a telecommunications station that is run by Telefonica
in Conil de la Frontera, that links Spain with the Canary Islands, and
other Mediterranean, African and American countries through undersea
cables. In 1992, the Germans left the installation, based in a chalet
and manned by military staff, as indicated by locals referring to the
chalet as "house of the military" and the street name, "Camino de los
Militares" (Military Way), in spite of an official absence of army

The book also looks at espionage operations conducted by the US and UK
in the Iberian peninsula. The US has been authorised to use bases on
Spanish territory for espionage purposes since 1953, when a
Hispanic-American covenant was signed to enable the construction of US
military bases, of which there are two: one in Moron de la Frontera
(Seville), and the other in Rota (Cadiz). The latter base has had a
large antenna (with a 500 metre circumference) known as AN/FLR-13,
capable of capturing radio broadcasts at a distance of over 5,000
kilometres. Members of the Naval Security Group (NAVSECGRU), the
code-breaking division of the US Navy, have been stationed in Rota since
the 1960s. The Hispanic-American covenant was updated on a number of
occasions, and the last time, on 10 April 2002, a list of installations
on US bases, such as a "naval communications station" and an
"information installation for maritime monitoring", were included. The
latest version of the covenant authorises the US armed forces to
undertake activity in the field of telecommunications to:

"1) meet new operational requirements, 2) improve the capability of
existing systems and 3) to contribute to the welfare and training of the
mentioned forces"

US criminal investigation services have been authorised to conduct
espionage activities in Spain, and cooperation with its Spanish
counterparts is encouraged, particularly in the context of the fight
against terrorism which Spain is conducting against ETA. Thus,
large-scale surveillance is allowed without laws to regulate who may or
may not be spied on, as constitutional guarantees only apply to
nationals of the country that is doing the surveillance.

Two espionage communications posts are allegedly run by the British army
on Gibraltar to listen in on communications crossing the Strait between
Spain and North Africa. One is a signals station in the north part of
Gibraltar, whose large antenna for intercepting radio waves, over a
radius of more than a thousand kilometres, consists of a dozen metal
towers joined by steel cables. The second is near to Gibraltar's
southernmost point, and has two large parabolic antennae within a
fortified military precinct owned by the UK Ministry of Defence. Ever
since the 1970s, the UK has been intercepting Spanish communications
from Gibraltar. These practices continue in spite of the UK and Spain
being military allies, and the importance of the UK's military bases on
Gibraltar is seen by the authors as an important reason for the two
country's failure to reach a settlement over Gibraltar.

The revelations of the interception stations run by the US and UK
military have important implications in view of the UKUSA cooperation
involving the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand that comprises
the Echelon telecommunications interception network on a global scale
which relies on the wholesale interception of worldwide communications. 


1. Introductory articles on Spanish, US and UK installations, in English

2. Website of the book

3. E-mail contacts for authors: nacho -!
- libertadvigilada -
 com (Nacho García
Mostazo, the author) and: aquiran -!
- ugr -
 es (Arturo Quirantes Sierra,
author of one of the chapters)

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