US & UK spies hacked SIM card manufacturer that allowed them to eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide

British and American spies reportedly stole confidential codes from Dutch SIM card manufacturer to eavesdrop on mobile phones around the world, an intelligence leak has revealed.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave leaked files to The Intercept detailing how the American agency and its British counterparts GCHQ stole encryption keys that keep mobile communications private.

The company targeted was Gemalto who produce billions of electronic chips for mobile phones and next generation credit cards.

It operates in 85 countries and its SIM cards cover more than 1.5 billion mobile users globally for clients such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.

The hacks are thought to have taken place in 2010 and 2011 and led to the theft of 300,000 keys from Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Serbia, Iceland and Tajikistan.