News you may have missed #656: Outed spies edition

Alexander LennikovBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Iran seeks death penalty for alleged CIA spy. Iran is seeking the death penalty for an American man accused of working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. At his trial Tuesday, Amir Mizraei Hekmati said the CIA sent him to Iran to infiltrate Iran’s intelligence systems, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported. Sources in America deny Hekmati’s intelligence connections and say the confession was coerced. Washington has also accused Iran of denying Hekmati access to Swiss consular officials.
►►North Korean alleged spy ‘kills self’ in South. A man who claimed to be a North Korean defector has reportedly committed suicide after allegedly confessing that he was sent to spy on the South. During questioning, the unnamed man, who was in his 30s, said he had received orders from Pyongyang to report on a South Korean organization that helps defectors from the North.
►►Ex-KGB spy spends third Christmas in Vancouver church. Ex-KGB spy Alexander Lennikov (pictured) has been living in Canada with his wife and teenage son since 1992. But in 2009, the Canadian government ordered him to leave the country, under a law which dictates that any former member of a spy agency that spies on democratic governments is inadmissible to Canada. Since then, he has taken sanctuary at the First Lutheran Church in Vancouver, and has not left the building. For previous intelNews coverage of this story see here.

News you may have missed #519

  • Australian ex-spy wins right to compensation. The former spy, known only as FXWZ, worked for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for almost 15 years before leaving it in 1979. Now at 67, he has won the right to compensation claiming that his work for ASIO induced a mental disorder.
  • Eritrea releases UK citizens detained for espionage. The four British men, two of whom are former Royal Marines, were arrested in Eritrea last December on suspicion of espionage, after they were caught in possession of arms including 18 different types of snipers, ammunition and night vision equipment. They have been released after a months-long diplomatic row between Eritrea and Britain.
  • Pakistan to deport US national suspected of spying. Twenty-seven year-old Matthew Craig Barrett has been arrested for allegedly scouting nuclear facilities near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, and is expected to be deported soon.

News you may have missed #494

  • David Petraeus tipped to be new CIA director. The Obama administration may tap CIA Director Leon Panetta to succeed Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. If this happens, then General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, may take over Panetta’s job at the CIA.
  • Reuters denies bureau chief had CIA contacts. The Reuters news agency has denied an accusation made on Cuban state television that its bureau chief Anthony Boadle helped arrange a meeting between an undercover Cuban agent and a US diplomat described as a CIA operative.
  • UK court grants Russian ‘spy’ aid to fight deportation. Katia Zatuliveter, who is accused by Britain’s MI5 of spying for Russia, has won legal aid to help fight her case against deportation, according to news reports.

News you may have missed #460

Russia, US, in largest spy swap since World War II

Igor Sutyagin

Igor Sutyagin

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Russian and American governments have agreed to conduct one of history’s largest spy exchanges, as ten Russian agents captured in the US last month have been swapped for four Russian citizens imprisoned by Moscow for spying for the US and Britain. The ten Russians arrested by the FBI in June were non-official-cover (NOC) operatives, otherwise known as ‘illegals’, a term used to identify deep-cover intelligence operatives not associated with a country’s diplomatic representation. According to reports, they were all instructed by the SVR, Russia’s equivalent of MI6, which is responsible for all foreign intelligence operations abroad, to plead guilty to “acting as unregistered foreign agents” a charge not equivalent to espionage in either seriousness or repercussions. They were then legally forbidden from ever returning to the United States and summarily expelled. They were taken from the courtroom directly to the airport, where they boarded a plane to Vienna, Austria. In return, Russian government sources have confirmed that four Russian citizens, arrested in recent years for spying on behalf of the US or Britain, will be released from prison and delivered to US authorities. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0276

  • Canadian government rejects ex-KGB agent’s deportation appeal. Vic Toews, Canada’s newly installed minister for public safety, has rejected a fresh appeal by former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov to be allowed to remain in Canada. Lennikov, who has been living in Canada with his wife and teenage son since 1992, is described by Canadian authorities as “a threat to […] national security”.
  • Analysis: CIA and intelligence community mythologies. Former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman, currently senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, offers a very informative checklist of what he calls “the mythology that surrounds the [US] intelligence enterprise”. Worth reading.

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News you may have missed #0148

  • Secret special service held to commemorate 100 years of MI5 and MI6. The Queen has attended an unpublicized special service at London’s Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of MI5 and MI6. It appears that the heads of the security and intelligence services were present for the unique ceremony in the cloisters of the Abbey. The service was also attended by prime minister Gordon Brown, foreign secretary David Miliband, and home secretary Alan Johnson, among others.
  • Canadian court ends spy services’ free rein in deporting foreigners. The Federal Court has dealt the government another setback in its attempts to deport alleged terrorists, based on the controversial security-certificate provision, which allows the government to use secret evidence in order to detain and deport foreigners. Thus, the deportation from Canada of Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui has been halted. Last July another deportation case, that of Hassan Almrei, a Syrian immigrant who was arrested in 2001 on suspicion of belonging to an Islamist-tied forgery group, was also halted on similar grounds.
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