Freed Russian scientist convicted for spying maintains innocence

Valentin DanilovBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Russian scientist who was pardoned last week, after spending nearly a decade behind bars for allegedly spying for China, has dismissed the charges against him as “pure fantasy”. Physicist Valentin Danilov was arrested by the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service, in February of 2001 and charged with conducting espionage in the service of the Chinese space program. At the time of his arrest, Danilov headed the Thermo-Physics Center at Russia’s Krasnoyarsk State Technical University (KSTU), located in Siberia’s third largest city. For several years leading up to his arrest, he conducted research on the impact of solar activity on the condition and performance of space satellites. During his lengthy trial, Danilov admitted selling to the Chinese information on satellite technology belonging to the Russian government. But his defense team argued that the information in question had already been declassified and available in public sources since the early 1990s. Eventually, in November of 2004, a Russian Federal court found Danilov guilty of treason and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. He was supposed to be released in 2017. Earlier this month, however, a court in Krasnoyarsk found that, since Danilov had served most of his prison sentence in good behavior, and since his health was weak, he would be released early. In his first public interview since his release, Danilov, 66, has said he intends to take his case against the Russian government to the European Court of Human Rights. Speaking to reporters as soon as he emerged from prison, the Russian scientist said: “I would truly appreciate it if someone finally told me what state secret I sold”. He went on to comment directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Everybody would be the same as him in his place, because it is the court that makes the czar”, he said, employing a traditional Russian proverb. Read more of this post

Russian court paroles scientist convicted of spying for China

Valentin DanilovBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A court in Siberia has issued a rare verdict to parole a Russian academic who was convicted in 2004 of conducting espionage on behalf of China. Russian physicist Valentin Danilov headed the Thermo-Physics Center at Russia’s Krasnoyarsk State Technical University (KSTU), which is located in Siberia’s third largest city. For several years prior to his arrest, he conducted research on the impact of solar activity on the condition and performance of space satellites. In 1999, Danilov was among the signatories of a lucrative contract between KSTU and the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is the main contractor for the Chinese government’s space program. The contract stipulated that KSTU was to help China Aerospace evaluate the performance of artificial satellites in real-life space conditions. Less than two years later, in February of 2001, Danilov was arrested by the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service, and charged with conducting espionage in the service of the Chinese space program. In his trial, which took place in 2003, Danilov admitted selling to the Chinese information on satellite technology belonging to the Russian government. But his defense team argued that the information in question had already been declassified and available in public sources since the early 1990s. Largely due to this argument, the jury acquitted Danilov of all charges at the end of 2003. However, by the middle of June of next year, the physicist had been arrested again, after the Russian Supreme Court overturned his earlier acquittal. In November of 2004, another court found Danilov guilty of treason and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. Read more of this post

Interview with editors of H-INTEL, a new intelligence email list (Part II)

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Yesterday we posted an interview with Dr. Mark Stout, of Johns Hopkins University and the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, who in June of this year announced the creation of H-INTEL, a new scholarly discussion list. The list, which now has over 200 members, and is actively seeking more, is an ambitious project that aims to provide an online venue for the scholarly discussion of intelligence. In doing so, it brings together academics, researchers, journalists, practitioners, and others, with an active interest in intelligence studies and intelligence history, ranging from antiquity to our times. Today we post the second part of our exclusive interview on H-INTEL, this time with List Editor Damien Van Puyvelde, a PhD candidate at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom. Damien, who specializes in the intensification of public-private intelligence relations in the ‘global war on terrorism’, is also a member of the Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies (CIISS) at Aberystwyth. Originally from France, Damien is currently H-INTEL’s primary List Editor. Read more of this post

Interview with editors of H-INTEL, a new intelligence email list (Part I)

H-INTEL list-serv logoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In late June of this year, Dr. Mark Stout, of Johns Hopkins University and the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, announced the creation of H-INTEL, a new scholarly discussion list. H-INTEL is an ambitious project that aims to provide an online venue for the scholarly discussion of intelligence. In doing so, it brings together academics, researchers, journalists, practitioners, and others with an active interest in intelligence studies and intelligence history, ranging from the ancient times to today. The list, whose message logs are located on Michigan State University’s H-Net server in East Lansing, has already over 200 members from several countries —and it is actively seeking more. In an effort to spread the world about this worthwhile effort, intelNews spoke with two individuals spearheading this project: Advisory Board member and List Editor Mark Stout; and List Editor Damien Van Puyvelde, a PhD candidate and member of the Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom. Below is our interview with Mark. To read Damien’s interview, click here for Part II of this post. Read more of this post

Research: Spies increasingly using Facebook, Twitter to gather data

Spying on social networkingBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
During the past four years, this blog has reported several incidents pointing to the increasing frequency with which spy agencies of various countries are utilizing social networking media as sources of tactical intelligence. But are we at a point where we can speak of a trend? In other words, is the rapid rise of social networking creating the conditions for the emergence of a new domain in tactical intelligence collection? This past week saw the publication of a new research paper (.pdf), which I co-authored with Micah-Sage Bolden, entitled “Social Networking as a Paradigm Shift in Tactical Intelligence Collection”. In it, we argue that recent case studies point to social networking as the new cutting edge in open-source tactical intelligence collection. We explain that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking platforms are increasingly viewed by intelligence agencies as invaluable channels of information acquisition. We base our findings on three recent case studies, which we believe highlight the intelligence function of social networking. The first case study comes out of the Arab Spring, which, according to one report, “prompted the US government to begin developing guidelines for culling intelligence from social media networks”. We also examine NATO’s operations during the 2011 Libyan civil war (Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR), when Western military forces systematically resorted to social networking media to gather actionable intelligence, by utilizing open sources like Twitter to pinpoint targets for attack. Finally, we examine the sabotage by Israeli security services of the 2011 “Welcome to Palestine Air Flotilla” initiative, a campaign organized by several European groups aiming to draw worldwide attention to the travel restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on the Occupied Territories. Read more of this post