In rare public denial, UK's intel agency calls Trump's spying claims 'ridiculous'
Britain's communications spy agency GCHQ has issued a rare public denial of "utterly ridiculous" claims it spied on Donald Trump, acknowledging that the vehement tone of its statement was "unusual".
"Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct 'wiretapping' against the then-president elect are nonsense," a GCHQ spokesperson said.
"They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored," the spokesperson said in a statement late on Thursday.
GCHQ's press office said on Friday that it was "not unusual" for the agency to make public comment but acknowledged that "perhaps the tone of it was unusual". The agency does not normally comment on intelligence matters, though it has stepped up its public relations in recent months, including for recruitment drives and warnings on cyber security.
Britain and the US — along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand — are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing alliance forged from the embers of World War II.
Trump accused former president Barack Obama on March 4 of a "Nixon/Watergate"-like wiretapping plot that would almost certainly break US law. President Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer repeated the allegations on Thursday, quoting from the Fox News report in which Napolitano spoke. Trump had accused former president Barack Obama on March 4 of a "Nixon/Watergate"-like plot that would almost certainly break US law. In the subsequent Fox report, Napolitano claimed that "three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command" to order the surveillance.
The White House has apologised to the British government after claiming that a British intelligence agency spied on US President Donald Trump at the behest of his predecessor Barack Obama.