News you may have missed #774 (lawsuit edition)

NSA headquartersBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►NSA whistleblower sues over property seized in leak raid. Diane Roark, a former staffer for the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has filed a lawsuit to seek return of computers, electronic devices and papers seized from her home in 2007. Roark, who handled the House’s oversight of the National Security Agency from 1997 to 2002, was suspected by the FBI of being a source for The New York Times‘ disclosure of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program STELLAR WIND, which she denies.
►►Lawsuit forces US agency to disclose CIA files. The US Veterans Administration has been ordered to disclose documents relating to the CIA’s Cold War-era experimentation on American soldiers. Beginning in the 1950s, the military and CIA utilized former Nazi scientists to test the effects of 400 types of drugs and chemicals, including mescaline, LSD, amphetamines, mustard gas, and nerve agents, on US soldiers, according to a lawsuit brought by the Vietnam Veterans of America and individual soldiers. Under the lawsuit, a judge in California has ruled the VA must hand over documents pertaining to the use of at least 7,800 service personnel as “human guinea pigs” by the US Army and the CIA.
►►Syrian spy tried to infiltrate German intelligence. A suspected Syrian spy who was arrested in Germany earlier this year and has now been charged with espionage, once tried to infiltrate the country’s intelligence services, according to German officials. The man, identified only as Akram O., was employed by Syria’s embassy in Berlin, and tasked with keeping tabs on Syrian opposition activists living in Germany. His application to work for the German federal government was made “at the behest of his intelligence agency handlers”, according to prosecutors. His application was turned down, however. The Syrian national applied for German citizenship in 2009, which was also denied.

News you may have missed #771

Shawn HenryBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Analysis: Ex FBI official says foreign spies biggest online threat. Former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry has warned that the biggest threat online comes not from terrorists or hackers, but from foreign intelligence organizations looking to steal intellectual property. “The threat from computer attack is the most significant threat we face as a society, other than a weapon of mass destruction”, he said in his opening keynote at the Black Hat 2012 conference in Las Vegas. “Everything we do —R&D, intellectual property, and corporate strategies— is stored or transmitted electronically. The DNA of companies is available to bad guys”.
►►Taiwanese officials jailed for espionage. Two Taiwanese former officials have been sent to prison by the Taiwan High Court for leaking state secrets to China. Presidential Office official Wang Ren-bing was jailed for two years after being found guilty of passing confidential information about President Ma Ying-jeou’s May 2008 inauguration to Chinese intelligence operatives. Chen Pin-jen, a former aide of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Kuo-tung, was sentenced to eight months in prison for delivering the confidential information Wang gave him to China. The two were arrested in 2009.
►►Germany charges suspected Syrian spy. A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Germany said Sunday that they have filed charges against suspected Syrian spy Akram O., one of two men arrested on suspicion of having spied on Syrian opposition activists in Germany for several years. The two were arrested in February during a sting operation involving over 70 German counterintelligence operatives, who searched the suspects’ apartments. The spokeswoman said she could not give further details before an official confirmation is issued that the suspect and the defense team have received the indictment.

Germany summons Syrian ambassador following spy arrests

Ferhad AhmaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Germany has summoned the Syrian ambassador to Berlin after German counterintelligence officers arrested two Syrian nationals on espionage charges. The two men, believed to be employees of Syrian intelligence, have been identified as 34-year-old Akram O., a Syrian national, and Mahmoud El A., a German citizen of Lebanese descent. Both were arrested early on Tuesday morning, during a sting operation involving over 70 German counterintelligence operatives, who searched the suspects’ apartments. According to a statement by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the two men are “strongly suspected” of having engaged “for years” in systematic surveillance against Syrian political figures in Germany, with particular focus on expatriate groups critical of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The statement added that German authorities are investigating the apartments of six alleged accomplices, suspected of assisting the two alleged spies. According to media reports, the counterintelligence operation was authorized after Ferhad Ahma, a Syrian-born elected official of the Green Party, was severely beaten at his apartment on December 26, by two men posing as German police officers. The Green Party launched a complaint with German police, suspecting that the two thugs were in fact Syrian government agents trying to intimidate Ahma, who is known in Germany for his strong criticism of the al-Assad regime. In announcing the diplomatic protest, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle told journalists that “any apparent activity against the Syrian opposition in Germany is in no way tolerable and a violation of [German] law”. Read more of this post