In 1837 Giuseppe Mazzini, an activist fighting for Italian unification, fled to London on release from prison in Paris. Mazzini thought he’d be safe away from Europe’s mainland, but shortly after the young Italian arrived in London, the Foreign Office began spying on his correspondence, opening Mazzini’s private letters and passing their contents to the Austrian and Neapolitan governments. When news of the FCO’s espionage became public, Mazzini received an outpouring of support from British liberals, who were outraged that the government could make such overt intrusions into somebody’s private life.
Sanjana Varghese: GCHQ’s centenary: the art of espionage in a digital age
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