I spy: Obama shunning Waldorf-Astoria over espionage fears

Top US officials no longer stay at the Chinese-owned hotel

From left: Barack Obama, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the New York Palace Hotel in Midtown
From left: Barack Obama, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the New York Palace Hotel in Midtown

The Waldorf-Astoria’s walls have eyes, federal officials fear.

Top national figures like President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have broken with the long-standing tradition of staying at the landmark hotel following its purchase by Chinese insurance giant Anbang.

The Waldorf’s sale agreement allowed Hilton Worldwide continues to operate the hotel at 301 Park Avenue, but also called for a “major renovation,” which raised suspicions of among government security personal of the possible installation of bugs and other tools of espionage, the Associated Press reported.

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“We are evaluating our options,” said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner. “The decision about the location of the U.S. Ambassador’s residence must necessarily take into account numerous factors, including costs, the needs of the United States government and the U.S. Mission to the UN, as well as any possible security concerns.”

National officials have instead made their temporary home at the New York Palace Hotel at 455 Madison Avenue in Midtown. [AP] – Ariel Stulberg