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The hot electrons in the plasma of an electron‐cyclotron‐resonance ion source are investigated by three passive diagnostics: bremsstrahlung, electron cyclotron emission, and diamagnetism. For this type of plasma the feasibility of the second diagnostic is an innovative development, as is the simultaneous use of two independent plasma diagnostics for either steady‐state or transient experiments. In the steady‐state experiments the bremsstrahlung and the electron cyclotron emission are interpreted by comparing the experimental spectra with simulated spectra calculated for the first time from a non‐Maxwellian electron distribution. The ‘‘perpendicular temperatures’’ obtained by the two diagnostics are in good agreement. In the transient experiments the electron cyclotron emission and the diamagnetic signals are recorded to study the electron density and the electron lifetime. All these experiments performed using the Minimafios ion source working at 18 GHz with oxygen gas demonstrate trends and saturation effects when the gas injection pressure and the radio‐frequency power are varied.