warns of cybersecurity, privacy threats at Sochi Olympics
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[February 08, 2014]
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The United States
on Friday issued a fresh travel alert for Americans attending the Sochi
Winter Olympics, citing cybersecurity threats and warning them to have
"no expectation of privacy" using Russian communications networks.
The U.S. State Department's alert — coming the same day that
Turkish security forces in Istanbul seized a Ukrainian man accused
of trying to hijack an airliner and redirect it to Sochi — updates
one issued two weeks ago.
"U.S. travelers should be aware of cybersecurity threats and
understand that they have no expectation of privacy when sharing
sensitive or personal information utilizing Russian electronic
communication networks," the department said.
The warning comes in the middle of a controversy in which U.S.
officials blame Russia for the Internet leak of recordings of a
senior State Department official and the U.S. ambassador discussing
a possible future government for Ukraine.
Victoria Nuland, a high-ranking U.S. diplomat, is heard on the
recording using an expletive to tell the ambassador it would be
better if a new Ukrainian government is backed by the United Nations
than the EU.
The State Department alert also said that "Russian police officers
have the authority to stop people and request identity and travel
documents at any time and without cause." The alert strongly advised
Americans in Sochi to carry at all times their passports, Russian
visas and other important documents.
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Officials said on Thursday that the U.S. Transportation Security
Administration was temporarily banning carry-on liquids, aerosols,
gels and powders on flights between Russia and the United States.
The State Department reiterated that U.S. citizens attending the
Olympics "should remain attentive regarding their personal security
at all times" and that such events represent an "attractive target
The Winter Olympics formally opened on Friday. Several U.S. and
European security officials have said that last-minute intelligence
reports about possible Olympics-related attacks continue to flow
into Western agencies.
(Additional reporting by Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball;
by Lisa Shumaker)
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