The suspected Chinese spy balloon recently spotted over American airspace could be monitoring cellphone traffic in the U.S., according to a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that China could be “scooping up signals intelligence. In other words, they’re looking at our cellphone traffic, our radio traffic.”
Peter Layton, a fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia and a former Royal Australian Air Force officer, told CNN that the balloon could be gathering information on U.S. communication systems and radar.
The U.S. has been tracking the balloon for a couple of days, the Associated Press reported. The matter has contributed to already strained tensions between the U.S. and China. But after consulting with top military officials, President Joe Biden decided against shooting down the balloon to avoid safety risks for people on the ground, a senior administration official told Newsweek on Thursday.
The official said that Biden “acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
“Currently, this balloon has limited value from an intelligence collection perspective,” the official added. “We are taking all necessary steps to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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