Prominent republican: I found bugs attached to my car

A SOPHISTICATED bugging equipment has been found in a car owned by a prominent Co Tyrone republican.

The suspected listening device and tracker were recently discovered in the Cappagh area by the former prisoner.

The man, who did not want to be named, said he believes the devices were fitted to his vehicle by MI5 or the PSNI.

The equipment is believed to be among the most sophisticated ever discovered in the north.

It is claimed the high-tech bug was found fitted to a rear wheel arch of the car by several powerful magnets.

What is thought to be a tracking device was discovered under the opposite wheel arch.

During the Troubles the Cappagh area was an IRA stronghold. It continues to be a republican heartland.

The suspected listening device appears to consist of a transmitter and an external microphone.

It is claimed the equipment had the capacity to monitor conversations inside and out-side the vehicle.

The device was attached to 12 long-life batteries which were taped together.

When opened it is under-stood the device contained a circuit board and a Vodafone Sim card, suggesting it may have used the mobile phone network to transmit conversations and other data.

As well as having a serial number, the suspected tracking device also had a series of letters scraped into its casing and appeared to be battery- powered.

The owner of the car said republicans continue to be closely monitored in Co Tyrone.

"As republicans in this area we are being monitored by drones, high-tech sophisticated cameras and listening devices," he claimed.

"We are asked to accept and endorse the PSNI and MI5 while their dirty tricks department are working on a daily basis to monitor republicans and their families, while our former colleagues in Sinn Féin are asking us to endorse the British military strategy which for years was used to kill republicans."

Last night UUP MLA Tom Elliott defended the use of surveillance against the "ongoing threat from terrorist groups and organised criminal gangs".

"Electronic surveillance has proven effective in disrupting the activities of such groups and has undoubtedly saved innocent lives in the process," he said.

"The Ulster Unionist Party believes that the security forces should have access to a very wide range of resources and tactics in order to combat criminal gangs, and this includes electronic surveillance."

* DEVICE: Another part of the suspected listening equipment