July 21, 2008 / 1:02 PM / 10 years ago

China rejects report on Brown aide "honeytrap"

A Research in Motion Blackberry is shown in Toronto October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday denied as a fabrication a newspaper report that said a top aide of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the suspected victim of a “honeytrap” operation by Chinese intelligence.

The Sunday Times said on Sunday that the aide had his BlackBerry mobile phone stolen earlier this year while he was accompanying Brown on a trip to China, after taking a woman he met in a disco to his hotel room.

The newspaper cited an unnamed British official as saying the incident had “all the hallmarks of a suspected honeytrap by Chinese intelligence”, adding that the incident highlighted the “growing threat” of Chinese intelligence to Britain and the West.

“The related report is a sheer fabrication. We hope that in the future, there will be no more such irresponsible reports,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

China has routinely denied charges that it carries out spying activities in Western countries, calling on other governments to cease their allegations of espionage.

The report comes weeks before Beijing is set to host the Olympic Games, the opening ceremony of which will be attended by world leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Brown is to attend the closing ceremony.

Reporting by Jason Subler; editing by Roger Crabb

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