Western companies to suffer backlash in China-US espionage spat

China and the United StatesBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
China’s response to America’s allegations of cyberespionage will probably not be directed against the United States government, but at Western technology companies, according to business insiders. On Monday, the United States Department of Justice identified five members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army as directly responsible for a series of cyberespionage operations targeting American firms. Since then, sources in the business community have said that American companies operating in China were “caught off guard” by the Justice Department’s charges, and that they were “given no advanced notice” by US government officials. On the one hand, business insiders claim that Chinese cyberespionage against Western firms is so aggressive that many in the corporate community were broadly supportive of Washington’s move. But, on the other hand, some industry analysts have told the Reuters news agency that, although Beijing’s response to Washington’s allegations will not be “immediate or obvious”, Western technology firms should prepare to face a lot more difficulties in doing business in China. Specifically, some business observers expect the Chinese government to respond to America’s cyberespionage allegations by “precluding foreign companies from certain sectors” of its economy. Beijing might even use the controversy to justify a “turn to internal suppliers” of technological products and services, say experts. The news agency reports that American hardware and software suppliers have already seen their sales in China drop as a result of the revelations by American intelligence defector Edward Snowden. The current clash over cyberespionage between America and China is likely to have a further negative effect on American business activities all over Southeast Asia. The ongoing dispute between the two countries is likely to have an effect in Europe as well, say The Financial Times. The London-based paper reports that Washington’s recent indictment has “struck a chord in German industry”, which is also concerned about the perceived theft of intellectual property by Chinese hackers. Read more of this post

About these ads

News you may have missed #871

Rene GonzalezBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Britain denies visa for Cuban spy freed by US. Rene Gonzalez, one of the so-called “Cuban Five” intelligence agents convicted by the US of spying, has been denied a British visa to attend a London symposium. Gonzalez, who served 13 years in US prison before his release in 2011, had been invited to a two-day conference put on by “Voice for the Five”, an organization that campaigns in support of the convicted Cuban spies. The Cuban state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said Gonzales, 55, was denied a visa because British law prohibits entry of a person sentenced to more than four years in prison.
►►Canada fires intelligence analyst over contacts with Russians. Irina Koulatchenko, a 36-year-old who came to Canada as a Russian refugee via Cuba, has been fired by Canada’s financial-intelligence agency, known as FINTRAC. A Canadian Security Intelligence Service probe recommended she not be trusted to do that job, allegedly because “she had had several social encounters with Russian diplomats”. The latter included one she met “at a Cirque du Soleil show, another who was friends with her ex-fiancé and another she bumped into all the time at various social events”.
►►CIA suspected of spying on Congress members. The United States Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Senate aides removing documents from CIA headquarters that they reportedly “weren’t authorized to have”. It turns out, however, that the CIA found this out because they were secretly spying on members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and their staff who were working on a high-profile report on CIA torture of detainees. What is more, Democratic Senator Mark Udall has claimed US President Barack Obama knew of the CIA’s secret monitoring of the Committee.

Swiss parliament halts US tax deal following CIA espionage claims

Swiss National Council chamberBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The lower house of the Swiss parliament has voted to stop considering a legislation designed to help the United States identify tax evaders, just days after a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee revealed an espionage operation targeting a Swiss bank executive. The legislation, which was drafted by the government of Switzerland, is aimed at addressing demands by Washington for Swiss banks to turn over to US authorities the identities of American tax dodgers. It is believed that tens of thousands of wealthy Americans manage to evade their tax obligations each year by exploiting strict Swiss banking privacy laws, which effectively shield them from US internal revenue authorities. The legislation has already been approved by the upper house of the Swiss Federal Assembly (the Council of States), but it needs to be cleared by the lower house (the National Council) before it can be officially enacted. Interestingly, the legislation was halted in the lower house just days after American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed a US espionage operation aimed at recruiting a Swiss bank official. Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, disclosed the existence of PRISM, a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). In addition to PRISM, Snowden, 29, spoke about a CIA operation in 2007, when he was allegedly stationed under diplomatic cover at the CIA station in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #842 (world reaction to Snowden leak)

Edward SnowdenBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Chinese media focus on Snowden leaks. The front pages of Chinese state media were covered Thursday with the allegations of ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden, who says the US government has been hacking computers in China for years. Speaking to media in Hong Kong, where he is currently staying, Snowden said the US has been hacking computers in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009. He said targets include public officials, businesses and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Those claims by Snowden were the top story on most of China’s major news portals on Thursday
►►Switzerland furious about Snowden’s charge that CIA spies on Swiss banks. One of the many lurid details in The Guardian’s remarkable interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was his account of what initially prompted him to leak: namely a CIA tour in Switzerland, where CIA officers recruited Swiss banking officials. The Snowden disclosure could not come at a worse time for the Swiss government, which is trying to convince parliament to back its emergency plan that would allow Swiss banks to turn over data on tax evaders to the US government.
►►Is Russia considering giving asylum to Snowden? Asked if the 29-year-old could claim asylum from Russia, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin told the newspaper Kommersant: “If such a request is received, it will be considered”. Any attempt by the Kremlin to give refuge to Mr Snowden, amid calls for his prosecution under the US Espionage Act, is likely to infuriate the White House and provoke a major diplomatic standoff.

News you may have missed #628 (analysis edition)

Michael Scheuer

Michael Scheuer

►►Should intelligence agencies chase tax evaders? Three years ago, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, paid a whistleblower close to $7 million for DVDs containing information on thousands of secret accounts at a leading Liechtenstein bank. The discs contained data on 4,527 Liechtenstein foundations and financial entities, 1,400 of which were owned by Germans. But should a spy agency like the BND take part in the unglamorous and politically charged business of collecting information on tax cheats?
►►UK ex-spy chief says Google makes spies work harder. The rise of the web and Google means Britain’s spies have to work harder to produce genuinely secret intelligence, according to Sir David Pepper, the former director of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. He said “the Google effect” of so much information being readily available online had “very substantially” raised the “threshold for producing intelligence” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
►►Ex-CIA official says America ‘creates its own enemies’. Americans are in the crosshairs of terrorists worldwide purely due to Washington’s policy in the Muslim world, according to former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who spoke to Russia Today. Scheuer, author of Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, worked for the CIA for over 20 years and at one time was the chief of the agency’s ‘Bin Laden unit’.

News you may have missed #575

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

►►Inquest into death of MI6 spy to go ahead. The inquest into the bizarre death of MI6 and GCHQ officer Gareth Williams will go ahead before Christmas without a jury, according to London-based newspaper The Express. The paper says that “12 spy chiefs will attend [the inquest] to explain the background to the case”.
►►Colombia’s ex-president denies role in spy scandal. Alvaro Uribe has denied, during a 3½-hour appearance before a Colombian congressional committee, that he ordered the country’s domestic intelligence agency to spy on judges, journalists and political foes. More than 20 agents of the DAS intelligence agency have been imprisoned for alleged roles in the spying. Two more have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences.
►►US spy research firm eyes stock market. IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, plans to introduce a new program to develop tools to help analysts “quickly and accurately assess petabytes of complex anonymized financial data”. According to a conference presentation, the program would help spies “analyze massive amounts of data to spot indicators of market behavior, find relationships between seemingly unrelated transactions across hundreds of global markets, and provide insight into specific events and general financial trends”.

News you may have missed #548 (China edition)

NIS HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►China detains Korean spy officers. It emerged last week that Chinese authorities have kept in detention for nearly a year two South Korean NIS intelligence officers, who were caught collecting information about North Korea on Chinese soil. It appears that the Chinese did share the information with the North Koreans, because usually the North Korean news agency would have announced this when the officers were first arrested. Of course, NIS denied the Chinese report. ►►US intelligence on China declassified. George Washington University’s National Security Archive has published a series of declassified US intelligence reports on China, spanning the period from 1955 until 2010. In one report authored in 2005, US intelligence analysts speculate that Beijing might be trying to develop a capability to incapacitate Taiwan through high-power microwave and electromagnetic radiation, so as not to trigger a nuclear retaliation from the US. ►►IMF investigators see China behind computer hacking. Back in June, intelNews reported on a massive and sophisticated cyberattack on the computer systems of the International Monetary Fund, which experts claimed was “linked to a foreign government”. Read more of this post

Taiwanese spy operation led to Chinese official’s dismissal, claims leaked cable

Jin Renqing

Jin Renqing

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The puzzling resignation of China’s minister of finance was caused by his sexual involvement with a Taiwanese spy, who extracted classified information from him, according to a leaked American diplomatic cable. At the time of his 2007 resignation, Jin Renqing, a Communist Party bureaucrat with over 40 years of financial affairs experience, was regarded as Asia’s preeminent finance technocrat. His rise to China’s most powerful financial post, in the early years of our century, coincided with the country’s meteoric economic rise. When he quietly stepped down, a brief press statement by the Chinese government said Jin had resigned for “personal reasons”. But according to a diplomatic cable authored in September 2007 by a US State Department diplomat, Jin’s resignation was in fact a summary dismissal, caused by his sexual involvement with a much younger woman, who is now believed to have worked for Taiwanese intelligence. The cable, which has been leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, describes the alleged Taiwanese spy as a “promiscuous socialite” and a “social butterfly”, who had successive affairs with a host of senior Chinese officials. The list included the country’s former Minister for Agriculture, Du Qinglin and Chen Tonghai, Director of China’s powerful Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, also known as Sinopec. Read more of this post

Suspicion mounts as US unlocks Moussa Koussa’s foreign assets

Moussa Koussa

Moussa Koussa

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Eyebrows were raised in intelligence circles on Monday, after the United States lifted its freeze of foreign assets belonging to Libya’s former intelligence chief, who defected to London last week. Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moussa Koussa, who headed the country’s intelligence agency from 1994 to 2009, managed to escape to the UK from Tunisia on a Swiss-registered private airplane. He is currently reported to be in an MI6 safe house in England, allegedly being interrogated about his inside knowledge of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. But Koussa is also thought to be the mastermind behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed nearly 300 people. The 57-year-old defector is also believed to have facilitated Libya’s funding of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and to have authorized the assassination of several Libyan dissidents living in Britain. In light of that, the news that Washington lifted its sanctions on Koussa’s sizeable fortune abroad is worth noting. It is also interesting to note that Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is reportedly pressuring European Union member-states to follow the US’ example in also unfreezing Koussa’s foreign assets. Read more of this post

Mubarak delayed exit in order to move secret funds, say intel sources

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of the reasons why Egypt’s disgraced ex-president kept prolonging his rule amidst ferocious anti-government protests this month, was to transfer billions of dollars-worth of personal assets into bank accounts around the world. British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph quotes a “senior Western intelligence official” who claims that Hosni Mubarak’s fund managers began transferring his extensive fortune to numbered bank accounts during the first days of the popular revolution in Egypt. The intelligence official told The Telegraph that Western intelligence services were “aware of some urgent conversations” within the Mubarak family about how to best protect their fortune from Egyptian and international financial investigators. The Mubaraks may have thus pre-empted the freezing of their accounts in Zurich, which was announced by the Swiss government on Friday. In this, Hosni Mubarak appears to have learned from Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee with his family to Saudi Arabia last month, without the benefit of his Swiss bank assets. The latter were frozen following an official request by the Tunisian government. In the case of Mubarak, whose vast $70 billion fortune is mostly managed by his son Gamal, it appears that most of his Swiss bank assets were moved to accounts in third countries in the days before his resignation and are thus “gone by now”, according to one US government official who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #319

  • CIA asks Gulf countries to monitor terrorist funding. The CIA has reportedly asked Arab/Persian Gulf countries “to tighten surveillance and look for any suspicious movement of funds” in regional banks.
  • Questions remain in Headley terrorism case. The New York Times has aired an update on the court case of Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration informant, who was arrested by the FBI in October for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper. The paper points out that Headley “moved effortlessly between the United States, Pakistan and India for nearly seven years, training at a militant camp in Pakistan on five occasions”. There has been intense speculation in India and Pakistan that Headley is in fact a renegade CIA agent.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0290 (al-Mabhouh assassination edition #1)

  • Al-Mabhouh assassination done by amateurs, says ex-Mossad agent. Rami Igra, a former high-ranking Mossad official said that Israel could not have been involved in the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, because it was so unprofessionally carried out.
  • Fatah spies also involved in al-Mabhouh assassination. IntelNews pointed out a few days ago that at least two Palestinians were possibly connected with the plot to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Three have now been formally indicted, one of whom, Ahmad Hasnin, is a Fatah intelligence operative.
  • US link to al-Mabhouh assassination? Authorities in the United Arab Emirates are probing five US-issued credit-card accounts, which officials say were used by five of the 11 suspects in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The credit cards, issued by a US-based financial institution, were used to buy travel-related items, such as plane tickets, connected to the alleged assassination operation.

Bookmark and Share

Spanish intelligence probe ‘financial attacks’

CNI seal

CNI seal

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Spain’s primary intelligence agency is actively probing alleged links between speculative moves in world financial markets and a series of editorials in “the Anglo-Saxon media”, which Madrid says have sought to undermine market confidence in Spain’s economy. Spanish newspaper El Pais says the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) has been asked by Spain’s government to investigate whether “there is something more behind the campaign” to destabilize the Spanish economy, which, if successful, would add tremendously to the financial challenges currently facing the Eurozone. The El Pais article hints at suspicions among many in the European Union that countries not currently participating in the Euro common currency zone may be trying to subvert the Euro through a series of well-timed media reports questioning the financial stability of the European Union. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 751 other followers