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Russia denies using 'poisoned' flash drives to spy on G20 summit attendees

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Russia is no stranger to surveillance — earlier this month, it was reported that the country was putting together "PRISM on steroids" for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics. Now, the country's in the middle of a scandal surrounding September's G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. According to a report from the LA Times, visiting world leaders at the G20 summit were sent home with USB flash drives and phone recharging cables designed to spy on cell phone and computer communications. The reports first surfaced in two Italian newspapers, La Stampa and Il Corriere della Sera; both papers reportedly attributed their stories to "technical investigations ordered by the president of the European Council and carried out by German intelligence."

It's a bold accusation, and one that Russia has already denied. According to The Guardian (which corroborated the LA Times report), a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin called the accusation "a clear attempt to divert attention from a problem that really exists: the US's spying, which is now a subject of discussion among European capitals and Washington." There's no indication on how many of the potentially compromised devices were handed out, but tests reportedly showed they were equipped with "Trojan horse" software to intercept data from phones and computers. While proof of these allegations has yet to be fully revealed, it sounds like Italy is taking them seriously — the country's prime minister Enrico Letta is calling for his security committee to meet on Thursday to review "questions pertaining to the security of telecommunications in the light of the Datagate [NSA] affair and the revelations on the last G20."