A concealed SIM card has been reportedly recovered by intelligence officials.
A hidden “Chinese tracking device” and other “disturbing things” were found in a recent security inspection of UK government vehicles, iNews reported on Friday, citing intelligence sources. The check was conducted amid growing fears over Beijing and Moscow’s alleged spying activities in the country, according to the article.
The “tracking device” turned out to be a SIM card capable of transmitting location data, according to the report. The device was planted in a sealed part of a vehicle, imported from a supplier in China, and is believed to have been installed by the car’s manufacturer, the newspaper’s source claimed.
The device “gives the ability to survey government over a period of months and years, constantly filing movements, constantly building up a rich picture of activity. You can do it slowly and methodically over a very, very long time. That’s the vulnerability,” the source told the newspaper.
During the security check, government cars were “dismantled surgically down to the last nut and bolt” by intelligence agents and some other “rather disturbing things” were found in addition to the suspicious SIM card, the source added.
SIM cards are commonplace in modern vehicles, and are installed by manufacturers for various purposes, such as collecting feedback on car performance. It was not immediately clear whether or not the recovered device was a standard-issue part for its respective vehicle.
Chinese officials have strongly denied Beijing’s involvement in the “tracking device” affair, dismissing the report on the SIM card as “groundless and sheer rumor” and an attempt to smear Chinese manufacturers.
“We are firmly opposed to political manipulation on normal economic and trade cooperation or any smear on Chinese enterprises,” a spokesperson for the Embassy of China in the UK told the newspaper. “The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to carry out foreign trade and investment cooperation in line with local laws as well as market principles and international rules. We are firmly against some people’s moves to deliberately overstretch the concept of national security to wear down Chinese enterprises.”