A United States spy base in Yorkshire has been implicated in tapping world leaders’ phones and intercepting their emails.
Whistleblower J Kirk Weibe has alleged that RAF Menwith Hill, near Harrogate in North Yorkshire, “either directly collected the data or would have processed data” from leaders’ phones before sending it back to the US National Security Agency (NSA).
The handful of British personnel at the base is dwarfed by more than 1,000 US military and civilian staff.
Thirty-year NSA veteran Mr Weibe believes that “if the information didn’t come from there, it is almost a certainty that it would have been processed there.”
Menwith Hill is easily identified by huge white radomes housing equipment linking the base to satellites circling the Earth gathering political, economic and military information.
It is controlled by the NSA and the information is fed back to its headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Mr Wiebe left the NSA in 2001 because he feared it was sweeping up vast amounts of data on ordinary people around the world.
He believes British intelligence may have been involved — Menwith Hill houses a contingent from the GCHQ eavesdropping agency, which is based in Cheltenham.
The base was handed over to US control by the British government in the 1950s.
Since then MPs concerned about its activities have been refused permission to enter the base, though more sympathetic MPs have visited by invitation.
Peace activists have campaigned for Menwith Hill’s closure for more than 30 years.
It is currently the target of the Yorkshire-based Campaign For the Accountability of America Bases (CAAB), which produces regular reports monitoring developments at Menwith Hill, which continues to expand, and other US bases in Britain.
CAAB joint co-ordinator Lindis Percy said she welcomed exposure of the base’s likely involvement in the scandal.
“It is what we have been waiting for — blowing the whistle on NSA Menwith Hill. It is very exciting news. They should all go home now.”
The Ministry of Defence added: “We do not comment on intelligence matters.”