Meikles Hotel bugged ahead of SADC?

Suspected CIA agents tried to bug the venue of the recent SADC summit on industrialisation, claims the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the local spy agency.

CIO insiders told The Zimbabwean that the secret service unit discovered the unspecified snooping gadgets when it monitored CCTV footage of key areas of the five star hotel as it carried out reconnaissance searches ahead of the summit that kicked off on April 26.

The summit was agreed on last year in Victoria Falls when President Robert Mugabe was made the chair of the regional bloc for a year.

“We were advised that our rec (reconnaissance) team did routine checks before the commencement of the summit and discovered that Meikles (hotel) had been bugged.

“The theory that came out was that the CIA must have been behind the bugging because of the methods that were used,” said an insider.

It was not clear, however, how the spook unit concluded that the methods were typical of the US’s CIA. After the discovery, the bugs were removed and security tightened.

“We have been tasked to carry out thorough investigations to establish the operatives behind the failed wiring attempt. Some black and white faces have been identified and cross checks are being made,” she added.

Her colleague, who works in the office of the president and cabinet (OPC), added that investigations had been extended to airport and road port points to try and match the faces to people who had recently visited the country.

“The problem, though, is that the CCTV footage is a bit blurred and that might make it difficult to pin down the individuals. They were acting like casual patrons of the hotel,” said the second source.

The sources speculated that the external spooks, who they said could have entered the country from South Africa, might have wanted to record the proceedings at the summit as part of counter-intelligence strategies.

South Africa recently courted world attention when internal intelligence leaks revealed that operatives in that country were colluding with foreign agencies to gather intelligence on economic, security and political activities and processes relating to numerous African countries.

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