Israel leaked video that brought down Austrian government, says German ex-spy chief

Strache GudenusIsraeli intelligence was likely behind the leaked video that brought down the far-right governing coalition in Austria on Monday, according to the former deputy director of Germany’s spy agency. The surreptitiously recorded video was leaked to two German media outlets on May 17, days before Austrian voters participated in the continent-wide elections for the European Union. In the video, two senior members of Austria’s governing far-right Freedom Party are seen conversing with an unnamed woman posing as a Russian investor. The two men in the video were Heinz-Christian Strache, the the Freedom Party’s leader and until recently Austria’s Vice Chancellor, and Johannes Gudenus, the party’s deputy leader and a member of parliament. In the video, Gudenus and Strache promise to award the woman’s firm state contracts if her uncle —a Russian oligarch— purchases an Austrian newspaper and uses it to support the Freedom Party. The video threw Austria’s political system into disarray and prompted the resignations of both Strache and Gudenus. On Monday, Austria’s Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, was removed from power during a special parliamentary session in Vienna.

But the question is who leaked the video, and why? In an article in the Cicero, a monthly political magazine based in Berlin, a former senior official in Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) argues that Israeli intelligence was probably behind the leak. The article’s author is Rudolf Adam, who served as deputy director of the BND from 2001 to 2004, before serving as president of the Federal Academy for Security Policy of the German Ministry of Defense. Adam argues that the actions of Strache and Gudenus, as shown in the leaked video, seem “half mafia-like and half-treasonable”, and that the two should face legal consequences. But he goes on to ask “a far more interesting question”, namely “who is behind this intrigue [and] what were the intentions of its initiators?”. Adam points out that nothing is known about the woman in the video; she reportedly met Gudenus several months before the video was filmed. She posed as the Latvian niece of a Russian oligarch with ties to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. In exchanges that lasted for several months, the woman told Gudenus that she planned to move with her daughter to Vienna and was interested in investment opportunities. She eventually invited him and Strache to a meeting in a villa in the Spanish resort island of Ibiza. It was there where the video was recorded.

Adam points out that the villa in Ibiza appeared to have been fitted with at least six hidden cameras, in the living room, kitchen and veranda. During the recording, some of the cameras appear to rotate, following Strache and Gudenus as they move around the villa. This indicates that the recording was remotely “tracked and controlled” by a team of technicians who participated in the operation, says Adam. He also points out that, even though the video was recorded in 2017, when the two men were not even members of the Austrian government, it was leaked to the media “in obscure circumstances” just this month, shortly before the European Union elections. And he asks, why the wait?

To begin with, Adam points out that the technical aspects of the video —the authenticity of which is not disputed— show that “it is not the work of journalists” or amateurs. Instead, “professional intelligence agents were at work in the Ibiza operation”, he says. The operation was “carefully planned over a long period […] with the highest level of professionalism”. But why make such a recording and then keep it from public view for almost two years? The answer is that the video was recorded by someone engaged in long-term strategic thinking, “with a great deal of foresight”, says Adam. The main reason for the timing of the leak may be connected with the European Union elections, specifically as an effort to limit the electoral ascent of Europe’s far-right parties, not only in Austria but in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Hungary, France, Spain, and elsewhere.

Providing one accepts that a state-run intelligence service was behind the video recording, Israel has a strong political motive to want to curtail the rise of the far right in Europe, argues Adam. China and the Arabs are not sufficiently interested in domestic Austrian politics to be behind this video, says Adam, while “no European intelligence service would be likely or capable of carrying out such an operation”. American intelligence services are preoccupied with Iran, China and North Korea, and the rise of Europe’s far right is not a political priority for the administration of United States President Donald Trump, he says. That leaves only one intelligence agency that has the human and technical capabilities for such an operation, as well as a clear motive: Israel’s Mossad. In addition to the above, the Mossad has many in its ranks who speak fluent Russian and have close contacts with Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union, says Adam. He concludes his piece by saying that, if anyone cares enough to investigate, the operation can be systematically examined and unraveled, just like the recent poisoning of the Russian double spy Sergei Skripal in England. Until then, he says, everything “including this article, is pure speculation and as such should be taken with extreme caution”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 28 May 2019 | Permalink

 

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One Response to Israel leaked video that brought down Austrian government, says German ex-spy chief

  1. ScienceABC123 says:

    Politicians buying their way into office by promising the future use of public funds…

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