APNewsBreak: DHS finds suspected phone spying in Washington

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APNewsBreak: DHS finds suspected phone spying in Washington
FILE- In this April 30, 2015, file photo, a Capitol Hill staffer looks down at papers while on a cell phone while walking inside the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Department of Homeland Security acknowledges detecting suspected cell tower simulators in Washington, D.C. These devices can track specific cell phones and even intercept or divert calls and text messages. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

For the first time, the U.S. government is publicly acknowledging the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages.

The eavesdropping devices are known as cellphone-site simulators. Their suspected use by foreign powers has long been a concern in the nation’s capital.

But American intelligence and law enforcement agencies — which use such equipment themselves — have been silent on the issue until now.

In a March 26 letter to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that it identified suspected unauthorized cell-site simulators in Washington last year

The agency said it had not identified who might have been operating them. Nor did it say how many it detected or where.