The name is Rock...Fake Rock.
Reuters is reporting today that Britain has admitted to using a fake rock concealing a high-tech communications device in order to spy on Russia. In a television program aired on Russian state television in 2006, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) accused Britain of using the gadget for top secret communications in Moscow, but Britain didn't admit to this at the time.
However, Jonathan Powell, who was chief of staff to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has just claimed that the accusations were true. "They had us bang to rights," Powell said in a BBC documentary to be aired today. "Clearly they had known about it for some time and had been saving it up for a political purpose."
The original Russian television story reported how the rock contained electronic equipment and had been used by British diplomats to receive and transmit information. It showed a video of a man walking along the pavement of a Moscow street, slowing his pace, glancing at a rock and slowing down, then picking up his pace. Then the camera films another man, who walks by and picks up the rock. Other cameras have caught someone placing or removing the rock in a Moscow park, as shown below.
The FSB has linked the fake rock with claims that British security services were making secret payments to pro-democracy and human rights groups. Soon after the incident, the then-Russian president, Vladimir Putin, initiated a new law restricting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from receiving funding from foreign governments.
Britain's Foreign Office, responsible for the overseas intelligence agency MI6, declined to comment on Powell's remarks.