U.S. officials have concluded that Israel likely was responsible for installing surveillance devices in Washington, D.C., including near the White House, and that they were intended to spy on President Donald Trump, a new report claims.
Politico reported Thursday that the conclusion was reached over the last two years. The devices, known as stingrays, act like regular cell phone towers but use technology to obtain information from cell phones connected to them, including their identities, data use, and the content of calls they make.
Trump and those close to him were the targets of the operation, Politico noted.
One former senior U.S. intelligence official told Politico, "It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible."
Another source said the Trump administration did not act or even confront the Israelis about the allegations after the intelligence community reached its conclusion.
Israel denies playing any role in the matter.
"These allegations are absolute nonsense. Israel doesn't conduct espionage operations in the United States, period," Israeli Embassy spokesperson Elad Strohmayer said.
Officials have discovered the stingray devices in and around the nation's capital in recent years, and initially it was a mystery as to who was responsible for their placement. More devices have been located in other parts of the country.
A former senior intelligence official told Politico, "The Israelis are pretty aggressive" in gathering intelligence. "They're all about protecting the security of the Israeli state and they do whatever they feel they have to to achieve that objective."
In June 2018, The Washington Post reported that federal officials acknowledged that stingray devices, formally called IMSI catchers, were found near the White House.
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