High-ranking PML-N politician used Apple AirPods to spy on party meetings: sources

Umar Cheema
Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: A high-ranking member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is under scrutiny by the top leadership of the party after suspicions that the member used Apple AirPods (bluetooth earphones) to spy on party meetings. 

The suspicions arose after it was noted that the confidential discussions taking place in close circles, even the whispering, was directly transmitted to certain 'intended recipients’ who wanted to keep an eye on the internal party politics of the PML-N. 

The person under question is apparently considered close to PML-N supremos Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, and has acted as messenger at times in and outside the party, an official privy to the development told The News.

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The suspicion arose due to the unnecessary use of AirPods, which are wireless bluetooth earphones created by the United States-based phone manufacturing company Apple.

“There is a device installed in that person’s AirPods which bugs meetings,” according to the PML-N official. The suspect tended to “forget” the AirPods in the meeting or somewhere close to important leaders when the suspect had to go somewhere else. 

The plot thickened when some observers noted that very confidential information discussed in closed-door meetings reached undesired elements within no time.

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AirPods are generally used to attend calls when one is away from an Apple iPhone or in unable or unwilling to hold it in the hand, but the attendant has to be within the radius of 5-6 meters for them to work.

However, concerns have been raised even in the US that AirPods can be used for spying purposes, which is possible by leaving the phone in a room, turning on the “Live Listen” option, and hearing the conversation on AirPods while sitting in the adjacent room.

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However, in the case under question, the suspect had often been found without a phone, which was presumably left somewhere in the car parked outside the range where from AirPods could catch signals. 

Suspicions grew when the person under question would make it a regular feature wearing AirPods during closed-door meetings. A spying chip, if installed in the AirPods, is capable of catching the conversation, even the whispering, the source said. 

According to the source, a spying chip enables one to catch live conversations from miles away, but within the radius of two kilometers of AirPods.

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For some party leaders, suspicions against the suspect were not a shock, given the background knowledge about the person’s relations with elements turned hostile against the party leadership. 

The suspect is considered a well-placed person, designated with a role of messenger in and outside the party.

“At times, it becomes difficult to determine who is with us and who is against us,” said an influential party figure, venting out frustration about in-roads being created in the PML-N’s ranks and files by powerful players. 

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