Chinese balloon ‘did not collect any information’, Pentagon says

Pentagon say US military ‘took steps to mitigate’ the collection of intelligence

Shweta Sharma
Friday 30 June 2023 09:50 BST
China threatens response after US shoots down ‘spy’ balloon

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The Chinese balloon shot down by a USfighter jet after suspected to be a spy aircraft did not connect intelligence data in February, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon said the US military “took steps to mitigate” the collection of intelligence by the balloon.

“It’s been our assessment now that it did not collect intelligence while it was transiting the United States or overflying the United States,” said Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder.

He said that the balloon had “intelligence collection capabilities".

“Certainly the efforts we made contributed” to mitigating collection of intelligence, Mr Ryder said, without further explanation at the briefing.

The debris of the suspected spy balloon was salvaged from the sea after it was shot down on 4 February. The balloon spent a week flying over the US air space and Canada before it was drowned off the coast of South Carolina.

The shooting down of the balloon further strained ties between the US and China which denied allegations of spying. The Chinese foreign ministry said that the balloon was a weather monitoring device that went astray and made its way into American airspace.

It comes as analysis from several US defence and intelligence agencies revealed that the balloon was equipped with American-made surveillance gear, Walls Street Journal reported, citing US officials.

It had more specialised Chinese sensors and other equipment to collect photographs, video and other information to transmit data to China, the report said.

The analysis suggested that the device was intended for spying but did not send data from its eight-day trip over Alaska, Canada and some other contiguous US states back to China, the report said.

Mr Ryder or the FBI has not responded to the report.

It comes after secretary of state Antony Blinken made a visit to Beijing as the two countries attempted to mend their strained diplomatic relations. The visit was originally planned for February, but it was postponed after the row over the Biden administration shooting down the Chinese balloon.

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