August 1, 2013 6:31 pm

US paid GCHQ £100m for UK intelligence, say leaked documents

The US has paid at least £100m to access UK intelligence over the past three years, according to leaked documents published by The Guardian newspaper.

The papers said the National Security Agency has paid GCHQ, the information gathering service, tens of millions of pounds in each of the past three years and in return has demanded co-operation from British spies.

The payments at times appear to have been crucial to GCHQ’s financial health.

Regarding a £15.5m payment to the agency’s sister site in Bude, Cornwall, one paper says: “Securing external NSA funding for Bude has protected (GCHQ’s core) budget.”

One leaked document, a GCHQ strategy briefing, said “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight” that in return for the money.

Another refers to GCHQ “meeting the NSA’s minimum expectations,” adding the agency “still remains short of the full NSA task”.

GCHQ did not comment on the revelations.

The Cabinet Office said: “In a 60-year alliance it is entirely unsurprising that there are joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled but the benefits flow in both directions.”

The papers are the latest to be leaked from the records of Edward Snowden, a US whistleblower who has made a series of accusations about the reach and scope of the American and British intelligence agencies.

The documents also reveal that GCHQ is ramping up efforts to gather information from individual’s mobile phones and the apps on them.

One paper reportedly said the agency wants to be able to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time”.

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