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FBI and the Greek diplomatic archives

01 March 2014 / 17:03:23  GRReporter
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In the summer of 1942 an FBI special agent informed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover about the first big success in terms of "the Greek issues". His team had managed to enter the Consulate in San Francisco and copy the Greek cryptographic dictionary which was necessary for their new secret mission that was just starting: a hitherto unknown operation for the interception of telephone calls.

The FBI "listened" to coded calls of officials from several countries, including Greece, during a period of at least eight years. The secret archives stored in FBI Room 6527 were not registered anywhere. The Kathimerini newspaper, as well as the Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche and the Sonntags Zeitung managed to get them on the basis of the freedom of information Act.

It seems that the activity in terms of Greece began in the summer of 1942, a few days after the visit of King George II to America. While he was stating in the American Congress that he was proud that his country was on the side of the strong American democracy, founder and director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover gave orders to the head of the task force for information gathering in New York to intercept all coded communications of Greek officials and send them for deciphering.


In the following years, thousands of coded telephone conversations were wiretapped: secret talks between diplomats and members of the government who were in all parts of the world - the embassy in Alexandria, London, Ankara, New York, Buenos Aires, Bern, etc. Even telegrams of the Prime Minister of the government in exile in London, Emmanouil Tsouderos, to the Greek Embassy in Washington fell into the hands of the Americans. It is unknown whether they were able to decipher them.

The cryptographic dictionary which the agent managed to copy was an older edition from 1927, which was no longer used by the Greeks. The correspondence of the Americans showed that the agents were trying to find the latest version from 1941. Meanwhile, technicians in 17 laboratories were working exclusively with Greek telegrams, trying to break the code. This was a group consisting mostly of linguists, including specialists with a doctorate in philosophy. The majority of telegrams were categorized according to content in three categories: diplomatic, military and "gorilla." It is not clear what the latter category refers to.

Besides tapping, the Americans seem to have proceeded to other activities in order to monitor the movements of the Greek government: some letters somehow fell in the hands of the FBI, and their processing was carried out in a special department. Congratulatory telegrams from the Greek consul in San Francisco to the Ambassador in Washington or to the King with wishes for a good year and the immediate liberation of the country, correspondence in French of a Greek diplomat with a relative in Casablanca, even details about the trip and stay of the Greek Consul in one of the best hotels in Washington - all this was recorded in "the Greek records" in room 6527.

Only 111 telegrams survived

In 1958, the cleaning of the special room 6527 began. The telegrams, the value of which had already been reduced, included 1,500 Greek telegrams from an eight-month period in 1942. The recommendation was to burn everything - something which obviously did not happen because 111 telegrams survived.

5,000 documents relating to all the countries of Europe and Latin America are indicative of the methodology of the Americans who have created an organized plan to spy even on allies since then. The conclusion? Wiretapping did not start yesterday, and it does not affect only enemies.

Tags: FBI wiretapping decryption Greek diplomats Edgar Hoover
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