Chinese hackers ‘stole blueprints’ of Australian spy agency’s new HQ

ASIO's new headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Chinese government hackers allegedly stole the master blueprints and other highly classified technical information relating to the new headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The state-of-the-art building, which is located at the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Australian capital Canberra, has so far cost taxpayers in excess of AUD $631 million (US $608 million). Although it remains under construction, the new headquarters is said to feature the most sophisticated security features of any government building in Canberra. But a report aired on May 28 by Australian television’s Four Corners investigative program, alleged that a Chinese government agency managed to steal the building’s blueprints. The program claimed that the highly classified blueprints were stolen when hackers mounted a sophisticated cyberattack on a private-sector contractor involved in constructing the ASIO’s new headquarters. Four Corners suggested that the cyberattack, which was “traced to a server in China”, also compromised the building’s communications diagram, server locations and physical security systems. The revelation will undoubtedly add to the stream of public criticism about the project, which has been severely plagued by budget increases and construction delays. As recently as 2010, the government was insisting that the project was “progressing on time and on budget, with completion scheduled for mid-2012”. Today, however, the building’s budget has gone over by AUD $171 million and the building is expected to open its doors no earlier than the fall of 2013, with some commentators suggesting that it could be 2014 before ASIO’s personnel are able to start moving in. Read more of this post

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Israel’s ‘Prisoner X’ supplied Australian passports to the Mossad

Ben ZygierBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Concerns about the routine use of Australian passports by Israeli spies led to the exposure of Israel’s mystery ‘Prisoner X’, who killed himself in 2010 while in prison, it has been claimed. On Tuesday, ABC Australia reporter Trevor Bromann identified the mystery prisoner as Ben Zygier, an Australian father of two, who had been recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency, after moving to Israel in 2000. Zygier, whose identity had been withheld even from his prison guards, was arrested in early 2010 and was held for several months in Ayalon, Israel’s most secure prison, located southeast of Tel Aviv. Ayalon’s Unit 15, where Zygier was held, consists of a single cell constructed in 1995 to house Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Remarkably, shortly after ABC Australia revealed Zygier’s identity, Israeli news outlets received telephone calls from the Office of Israel’s Prime Minister, requesting urgent meetings “in the interest of Israel’s national security”. Israeli media reported that senior news editors across Israel were told by the government “to exercise restraint” and refrain from exposing information that could have “very dramatic repercussions” for Israel’s security. Read more of this post

Israel’s ‘Prisoner X’ identified as Australian Mossad agent

Ben ZygierBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In late 2010, an unnamed man known in Israel as ‘Prisoner X’ allegedly hanged himself while being held at a maximum-security prison near Tel Aviv. He committed suicide despite being under constant surveillance inside a facility originally built for the man who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. So secret was the identity of the mysterious prisoner that, it was claimed, not even his guards knew his identity. Some in Israel speculated at the time that it might have been an abducted Iranian general. On Tuesday, however, an investigative Australian television program identified the dead man as an Australian citizen who had allegedly been recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency. ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program identified ‘Prisoner X’ as Ben Zygier, an Australian father of two, who moved to Israel in 2000 at the age of 24. The program said Zygier, who in Israel went by the name Ben Alon, was arrested by Israeli authorities in 2010 for unknown reasons. There is intense speculation, however, that Zygier’s secretive incarceration might be connected with an extremely serious security case, possibly involving high treason against the state of Israel. Despite the allegation by ABC of Zygier’s Mossad connection, Israeli news outlets are subjected to an active court order authorizing Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service to prohibit any media discussion on the subject. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday that, hours after ABC’s revelation of Zygier’s identity, Israeli news outlets received telephone calls from the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister. Read more of this post

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