Poles who ‘spied for Russia’ worked on strategic natural gas project

Polish Ministry of National DefenseBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
At least one of the two men arrested in Poland last week for spying for a “foreign entity” was working on a project of strategic significance, aimed at reducing Poland’s dependency on Russian natural gas. Polish media reported last Wednesday that a colonel in the Polish Army had been arrested by security personnel for acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign country. Subsequent media reports said a second man, a lawyer with dual Polish-Russian citizenship, had also been arrested. Later in the day, an official statement from the office of the Senior Military Prosecutor said simply that Poland’s Ministry of National Defense had “detained a Polish Army officer on suspicion of being a member of a foreign intelligence service”. But there was no mention of the country for which the detained men allegedly spied for. This past Saturday, Reuters revealed that the two men were suspected of spying for Russia. The news agency cited Marek Biernacki, a Polish parliamentarian, who is also a member of the Polish Parliament’s Committee on Intelligence and had allegedly been briefed by Polish intelligence officials about last week’s arrests. Biernacki told journalists that the actions relating to the two detainees had been “taken in respect of two agents of the Russian state”. In accordance with Polish law, the public prosecutor named the civilian detainee as Stanislaw Sz., using only his first name and the first two letters of his last name. Reuters said the man had been employed at the well-connected law firm of Stopczyk & Mikulski, whose website listed him until recently as an employee. Stanislaw Sz. was allegedly involved in a project to construct a coastal terminal in Swinoujscie, located on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast, for importing liquefied natural gas. The import terminal, which is scheduled to become operational in 2015, will allow Poland to import gas from the Persian Gulf. That will in turn reduce the country’s heavy dependence on imported Russian natural gas at a time when Warsaw’s relations with Moscow continue to deteriorate. Reuters said that the precise nature and timing of Stanislaw Sz.’s involvement with the Swinoujscie terminal is unclear, but it characterized the project as being of strategic importance for both Poland and Russia. Read more of this post

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German intelligence report sees US leading global energy contest

The Tengiz oil refinery in KazakhstanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A leaked geopolitical study authored by German intelligence sees the United States as the primary beneficiary of the world’s drastically changing energy balance. The report, which was produced by the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnach- richtendienst, or BND) was leaked to the Reuters news agency and accessed by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It sides with other recent estimates, notably by the International Energy Agency, which suggest that the domestic oil production of the United States might exceed that of Russia and Saudi Arabia by the year 2020. The BND estimates that, through the technique popularly known as fracking (using pressurized fluid to cause horizontal fractures on underground rock layers), the US will be able to exploit oil and natural gas reserves on its territory that were previously considered inaccessible. This could transform the US from the world’s largest energy importer of energy to a net exporter of both oil and natural gas. According to the report, such a massive transformation of the global energy import-export balance could have “particularly dramatic consequences” in the realm of international relations. Most crucially, it could transform the existing balance of power between the US and China. Specifically, German intelligence analysts forecast that, as the US becomes increasingly self-sufficient in energy, it will limit its import of oil and natural gas to its neighboring countries, namely Canada and Mexico. This could potentially lead the US to gradually disengage from the Middle East, allowing Washington’s foreign policy “increased freedom of action” vis-à-vis energy-rich Arab nations and Israel. At the same time, more Middle Eastern oil will find its way to China, as the Far-Eastern country will emerge as the world’s largest importer of energy. Read more of this post

ExxonMobil executive shot dead ‘assassination-style’ in Brussels

Nicholas MockfordBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A senior British executive of American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil has been killed in an alleged “assassination-style” shooting in Belgium. Nicholas Mockford, 60, was a technical support manager for ExxonMobil Chemicals, Europe, specializing in intermediate technology, also known as alternative energy generation. He was shot dead at 10:00 in the evening as he was leaving an Italian restaurant on Rue de Beyseghem, in Neder-over-Heembeek, a leafy suburb of Belgian capital Brussels, where he lived with his Belgian wife and three children from a previous marriage. British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which published news of the incident last week, said that Mr. Mockford was killed on October 14. But the paper said a “judicial instruction” had been imposed on the case by the investigating judge, which amounted to a news blackout. According to reports, Mr. Mockford was with his wife Mary when he was shot in the attack, which witnesses said happened “very quickly”. The couple was allegedly seen walking across the street from the restaurant to their car, when all of a sudden several shots were fired. The Telegraph said that Mr. Mockford’s wife was left at the scene of the crime “covered in blood” and crying for help. Two men were apparently seen running away from the area where the shooting took place, carrying motorcycle crash helmets. Soon afterwards Mr. Mockford died on his way to the hospital, said the paper. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #789

Mikhail FradkovBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Putin adds spy chief to energy commission. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reinforced a presidential commission seen as Kremlin’s vehicle for vying for control over the country’s crucial oil and gas sector, by adding the country’s top police officer and senior spy to its ranks. They are Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Mikhail Fradkov, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, formerly a department of the KGB. The commission is driven by Igor Sechin, a former KGB officer and close ally of President Putin.
►►US spy sat agency plans major expansion. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), America’s secretive spy satellite agency, operates a vast constellation of spy satellites in orbit. But these surveillance spacecraft have traditionally only been able to gaze down on a few small areas of the planet at a time, like flashlights probing the dark. And this, only with careful advance planning by human operators on the ground. Now the NRO wants to expand the current flashlight-like satellite deployment to a horizon-spanning, overhead spotlight that can illuminate vast swaths of the planet all at once. The agency also wants new spacecraft that can crunch the resulting data using sophisticated computer algorithms, freeing the satellites somewhat from their current reliance on human analysts.
►►GCHQ warns of ‘unprecedented’ cyberattack threat. The British government’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has warned the chief executives of Britain’s biggest companies about an allegedly “unprecedented threat” from cyber-attacks. “GCHQ now sees real and credible threats to cybersecurity of an unprecedented scale, diversity, and complexity”, said Ian Lobban, the agency’s director. The magnitude and tempo of the attacks pose a real threat to Britain’s economic security’, Lobban adds, but notes that about 80% of known attacks would be defeated by embedding basic information security practices.

State prosecutors probe alleged plot to kill Greek prime minister

Kostas KaramanlisBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Government prosecutors in Athens have opened a criminal investigation into an alleged plot to kill the Prime Minister of Greece in 2008, which was reportedly uncovered by Russian intelligence. In June of last year, Greek media claimed that the country’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) had been briefed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) about the assassination plot. According to the Russian briefing, the plot, codenamed PYTHIA, was hatched by the intelligence agency of “a country allied to Greece”, and was targeted at conservative Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who governed Greece from 2004 to 2009. The Russians claimed that Operation PYTHIA was purportedly aimed at preventing Athens from signing on to a series of energy deals with Moscow, including the ambitious South Stream pipeline project, which aims to connect Russian gas fields to the European energy market. On Wednesday, court official Nikos Ornerakis told a press conference in Athens that, based on preliminary investigations, Greek prosecutors considered the case credible and had filed a felony count of conspiracy “against persons unknown”. The Associated Press, which reported on the story, spoke to former Ambassador Ioannis Corantis, who headed Greece’s EYP intelligence service during the discovery of the alleged assassination plot. Ambassador Corantis confirmed that the EYP had indeed been briefed on Operation PYTHIA “by an official of the [Russian] FSB”, and that the briefing concerned a suspected assassination plot against Prime Minister Karamanlis. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #563 [updated]

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell

►►Colombia spy official imprisoned for illegal wiretapping. Gustavo Sierra Prieto, the former analysis chief of Colombia’s soon-to-be-dismantled DAS intelligence agency, has been sentenced to eight years and four months in jail for his role in the illegal wiretapping of government opponents, judges and journalists. But the main culprit in the wiretapping scandal, former DAS Director Maria Pilar Hurtado, is still hiding in Panama.
►►Cold War documents detail CIA interest of Canada. The CIA has declassified some of its Cold-War-era reports on Canada. The documents show that the Agency’s interest in America’s northern neighbor was mostly related to the its satellite R&D, as well as its economic sector, with a particular focus on Canada’s energy and minerals sector. There is also discussion in some documents of how to best utilize Canada’s energy resources in a possible war with the Soviet Union.
►►Ex-intel official says US must engage in cyberspying. Is it just me, or is there a calculated echo chamber developing by former senior US spy officials? Read more of this post

Computer hacking reveals Italian spying on Russia, India

CNAIPIC emblem

CNAIPIC emblem

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Documents posted online by an anonymous hacker group point to extensive Italian espionage against Russian and Indian defense and energy deals. The hacked documents contain raw data and intelligence reports authored by officials in Italy’s National Anti-Crime Computer Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNAIPIC), an electronic security outfit operating under the auspices of the Italian National Police. It appears that Italian National Police servers were recently hacked by a group of international hackers calling itself Anonymous Hackers for Antisec Operation. On July 26, the group published over eight gigabytes of hacked CNAIPIC documents on various subjects, ranging from reports on Egypt’s Ministry of Transportation to information about the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam). Among the documents are reports that seem to point to systematic intelligence-gathering operations by CNAIPIC against Russia’s government-owned energy and defense industries. Some of the information contained in the reports appears to have been stolen from the embassy of India in Moscow, probably through cyberespionage. The stolen information would suggest that CNAIPIC has had access since late 2009 to confidential correspondence between the Indian embassy and a number of Russian military aircraft industries, including Aviazapchast, Ilyushin Aircraft, and NPO Saturn. Read more of this post

CIA bank accounts used to funnel oil deal money, court documents claim

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Court papers in a bizarre lawsuit involving $258 million in missing funds from an international oil deal, appear to show that the funds were channeled to dormant CIA bank accounts with the help of an Agency employee. The case is being ignored by US media, but has attracted attention in the Irish press, because an Irishman, Ed O’Neill, is the primary defendant in the lawsuit. O’Neil was the main consultant broker who helped facilitate a 2008 oil deal between involving NIB Petroleum of Venezuela and Russia’s Gazprom, both of which sold oil to Turkey’s UP Petroleum. Among O’Neil’s tasks was ensuring that six consulting companies were paid a total of $258 million for helping facilitate the complex deal. The Turkish company, UP, paid the funds to O’Neil, but they never arrived to the six companies. The latter are now suing O’Neil for the missing money. But Irish quality broadsheet The Independent, says it has seen copies of the court papers, filed in the US state of Illinois. According to the documents, O’Neil told his clients, who were awaiting the money, that he was having trouble wiring it to them, and that he had enlisted the assistance of a friend of his, by the name of Carlos Jesus Navarro, who was a CIA operative. According to the testimony of the plaintiffs, O’Neil told them that Navarro had access to several dormant CIA bank accounts, which could be used to wire the money around the world. With Navarro’s alleged help, the funds were then transferred to banks in Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and the island of Guernsey, before making their way to the Cayman Islands. From there they were transferred to Germany’s Commerzbank, and finally to a Bank of America branch in New York City. The money was supposed to be transferred one last time to the plaintiffs’ bank accounts in Chicago; but this last transfer never took place. Read more of this post

Emirates authorities deny Oman spy ring allegations

Oman

Oman

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The government of the United Arab Emirates has denied operating an espionage network in the neighboring Sultanate of Oman, saying that spying goes against the country’s values. The official denial was issued in response to a news report by Oman’s state news agency, which said that Omani authorities had uncovered a spy ring targeting the country’s intelligence and military apparatus. According to the report, issued yesterday by the Oman News Agency, the country’s security services “discovered a spy network affiliated to the State Security Service in the United Arab Emirates”, leading to several arrests across the Sultanate. No further information was issued by the news agency, but Reuters quoted an anonymous Omani government source, who said that the alleged spy network was first uncovered two months ago, and that the arrestees include “Omani nationals”. The news of the espionage allegations have perplexed observers, who consider the UAE and Oman to be generally on good terms. Both countries belong to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, an increasingly unified political and economic union that involves the region’s pro-Western oil states, including Saudi Arabia. One notable difference between the UAE and Oman is the latter’s traditionally close relations with Iran, with which it maintains common energy concerns. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #460

Even more underreported WikiLeaks revelations

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It appears increasingly likely that Sweden will extradite Julian Assange to the United States, where the WikiLeaks founder will face espionage charges. But the WikiLeaks revelations keep coming, although not all of them receive the worldwide media attention that they deserve. Take for instance the disclosure that at least three senior Australian Labour Party (ALP) politicians have operated as “protected sources” (diplomatic parlance for secret informants), providing regular updates on internal ALP politics to US embassy operatives in Canberra. According to internal US diplomatic cables released on Thursday, ALP politicians Bob McMullan, Michael Danby and Mark Arbib, who currently serves as the Australian federal government’s Minister for Sport, regularly held secret meetings with US embassy officials after 2004.  All three deny accusations that they acted as spies for the US. Another underreported WikiLeaks revelation concerns a 2008 proposal by the Saudi government to create an US- and NATO-backed Arab military force to invade Lebanon, seeking to obliterate Shiite paramilitary group Hezbollah, which controls large sections of the country. Read more of this post

Analysis: Russian-Czech spy scandals show new direction in Russian espionage

ÚZSI seal

ÚZSI seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last July saw the resignations of three Czech Generals, including the head of the president’s military office and the country’s representative to NATO, following revelations that one of their senior staffers had a relationship with a Russian spy.  Intelligence observers have become accustomed to frequent reports of Russian-Czech spy scandals in recent years. But, according to reports from Prague, recent Russian intelligence activity in the Czech Republic may indicate a change of direction by Moscow. Some say that Russia’s new espionage doctrine focuses less on military intelligence in the post-US-missile-shield strategic environment, and more on political and economic espionage. To be sure, Russia’s intelligence presence in the Czech capital remains substantial: Czech counterintelligence sources estimate that at least 60 –that is, one in three– Russian diplomats in Prague are engaged in intelligence-related activities. But the intensity of Russian espionage in Prague is not unique. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #401

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News you may have missed #355

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Analysis: An Economic Security Role for European Spy Agencies?

Economic espionage

Economic spying

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last February, Spain’s intelligence service began investigating alleged suspicious efforts by foreign financial speculators to destabilize the Spanish economy. According to newspaper El País, the Spanish government asked the country’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) to probe links between speculative moves in world financial markets and a series of damaging editorials “in the Anglo-Saxon media”. There are indications that the National Intelligence Service of Greece (EYP) is following in the CNI’s footsteps. In February, when Athens and Brussels began to realize the magnitude of the financial crisis threatening the European common currency, several news outlets suggested that the EYP was cooperating with Spanish, Irish and Portuguese intelligence services in investigating a series of coordinated speculative attacks on money markets, most of which allegedly originated from London and Washington. Read more of this post

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