News you may have missed #707

Gareth WilliamsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Russian colonel charged with spying for the US. Russia charged a reserve colonel with espionage on Tuesday, for selling what officials said were classified topographical maps to the United States Department of Defense. The officer, Vladimir Lazar, purchased a disk with over 7,000 topographical images of Russian territory from a collector he met on the Internet in 2008, smuggled it into neighboring Belarus and gave it to a Russian citizen working for the United States, the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement. An investigation found that the materials could be used for planning military operations, including missile strikes. Officials did not disclose when Lazar was arrested or give his current whereabouts.
►►FBI denies Russian spy tried to sexually entice US cabinet official. On April 1, British newspaper The Independent quoted C. Frank Figliuzzi, the assistant FBI director for counterintelligence, saying that the recently discovered Russian illegals spy ring, which included Anna Chapman, was “getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue”. Now the FBI says that Figliuzzi “was misquoted”, and that “there is no allegation or suggestion in the complaint that Anna Chapman or anyone else associated with this investigation attempted to seduce a US Cabinet official”.
►►London police admits ‘errors’ in MI6 officer’s death investigation. A coroner was given a wrong name for a witness in the case of an MI6 officer Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a bag in a London flat in August of 2010. The Metropolitan Police said “administrative errors” led to the coroner being given three different names for Elizabeth Guthrie. She is expected to be questioned about her contact with the MI6 officer in the months before his death. At a pre-inquest hearing last week coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said “there has been some confusion” over the identity of the witness.

News you may have missed #576 (Europe edition)

GCHQ

GCHQ

►►Inside Britain’s signals intelligence agency. This account of the work of Britain’s General Communications Headquarters is a bit basic, but it’s not every day that the GCHQ grants access to a journalist to its Cheltenham base.
►►Czech telecoms to share data with intel services. The Czech Interior Ministry has placed a clause in the planned amendment to the electronic communications law, under which operators of communication networks will have to provide data on cell phones and the Internet to the civilian and military counterintelligence.
►►Dutch F-16 pilot suspected of espionage. A Dutch former F-16 pilot suspected of espionage, identified only as Chris V., had more state secrets in his possession than he previously admitted to, according to public prosecutors in The Hague. The pilot was arrested last April and stands accused of leaking state secrets to a colonel from Belarus.

Hundreds of European mercenaries ‘fighting for Gaddafi’

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Hundreds of European mercenaries, including large numbers of European Union citizens, have voluntarily enrolled in the armed forces of the Libyan government, and are fighting under the command of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. According to criminologist Michel Koutouzis, the Greek CEO of a French-registered consulting firm with connections to Libya, up to 500 European soldiers-of-fortune have been hired by the Libyan government to provide “special services”, particularly in heavy weaponry and attack helicopters. Koutouzis says that most of the European mercenaries, who sell their services for thousands of dollars a day, come from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, but there are also French, British and Greek nationals currently in Libya. He also claims that Gaddafi is supported by serving military personnel from Russia, Syria and Algeria. It is believed that the Gaddafi camp is also employing thousands of non-specialist mercenaries from various African nations, including Somalia, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Unconfirmed reports have surfaced in the American press that the Gaddafi forces are employing female snipers from Colombia. Read more of this post

Experts see nation-state behind sophisticated computer virus attack

Ahmadinejad

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Computer forensics specialists are split as to the purpose and initial target of a sophisticated computer virus that infected computers used in the Iranian government’s nuclear energy program. The virus, named Stuxnet, was discovered in Iran in June by a Belarusian computer security firm doing business in the Islamic Republic. It has since infected at least 100,000 computer systems in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and the United States. But the primary target of the virus appears to have been the Iranian nuclear energy program, specifically computers located at the Islamic Republic’s nuclear reactor facility in Bushehr and the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Several commentators, including Wired magazine, dispute the existence of any evidence pointing to a clear target inside Iran.  But Israeli media maintain that computers at Natanz were the primary target of Stuxnet, and that subsequent infections at computer labs at Bushehr were in fact an unintended side effect. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #427

  • Did Belarus KGB murder opposition activist? The death of Belarussian opposition activist and journalist Oleg Bebenin has thrown a murky light on both the circumstances of his demise and those who might be behind it. Some point the finger at Minsk’s modern-day KGB, whose leadership was reshuffled earlier this year by President Alexander Lukashenko.
  • Colombian agency behind domestic spying honey trap. Former Colombian detective Alba Luz Florez has revealed that she seduced a national police captain as a way of infiltrating the Colombian Supreme Court, during a 2007 domestic spying operation by the country’s scandal-besieged Administrative Department of Security.
  • Ex-MI6 worker jailed for trying to sell secrets. A British court has jailed Daniel Houghton, a former employee of MI6, Britain’s external spy agency, for trying to sell secret intelligence documents to the Dutch secret services. Interestingly, the Dutch notified MI6 after they were approached by Houghton, who has dual British and Dutch citizenship.

Russian intelligence arrests, extradites fmr Kyrgyz interior minister

Moldomusa Kongantiyev

Kongantiyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
If there were any doubts that Russia is aggressively courting the new interim government in Kyrgyzstan, they were dispelled earlier today with the announcement that Russian authorities arrested the Central Asian republic’s former interior minister. Kyrgyzstan’s National Security State Service (NSSS) announced that Moldomusa Kongantiyev was arrested on Sunday in Moscow, by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and will be extradited to Bishkek, where he will face charges of using state repression against demonstrators. Kongantiyev had escaped to Russia in mid-April, after he was abducted and viciously beaten by Kyrgyz opposition demonstrators, who released him after his family paid a significant amount of money as ransom. IntelNews hears that Kongantiyev suspected that Moscow planned to extradite him to Kyrgyzstan, and that some of the supporters of the deposed regime in Russia offered to hide him. But their attempt to smuggle him out of a hospital in Moscow, where he was receiving medical care, was thwarted by the FSB, after a tip from  NSSS. Read more of this post

West German spy service employed former Nazis, documents show

Reinhard Gehlen

Reinhard Gehlen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
West Germany’s intelligence service employed hundreds of former Nazi criminals from 1956 until at least 1971, according to internal documents. The links between the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the main foreign intelligence agency of the German government, and the remnants of the German Nazi party, are well known; even its first director, Reinhard Gehlen, was a former General of the Wehrmacht. But documents dating to the 1960s, which were leaked last week to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, show that Gehlen, who worked as a CIA agent after 1945, was aware of his officers’ Nazi past, as were his American counterparts. The Nazi connections were internally revealed in detail after 1963, when Gehlen set up an internal BND investigation office, called Unit 85, to unmask potential Soviet moles inside the agency. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0270

  • S. Korean court orders damages in alleged spy case. Lee Soo-geun was a senior North Korean government apparatchik, who defected to the South and joined its intelligence service in 1967. Later, however, when he attempted to flee to a third country, he was arrested by South Korean counterintelligence agents, charged with working as a double agent, and shot. But now a court in Seoul has concluded that Lee’s confession was extracted by force, and has ordered that damages be paid to Lee’s niece, who was imprisoned for allegedly helping him.
  • Belarus reshuffles KGB leadership. Last week, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko carried out a major reshuffle in the country’s State Security Committee (KGB), a surprise move which affected all KGB deputy chairs and regional department heads. Retired KGB lieutenant colonel Valery Kostka explains the reasoning behind the reshuffle.

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News you may have missed #0164

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News you may have missed #0111

  • Obama supports extending USA PATRIOT Act domestic spy provisions. The move confirms the US President’s support for the Act, whose warrantless communications monitoring provisions he approved with his Senate vote in 2008.
  • Poland jails alleged Belarusian spy. The man, known only as “Sergei M.” was sentenced Wednesday to five-and-a-half years in prison by a Warsaw district court for spying against Poland between 2005 and 2006. Meanwhile in Belarus four local army officers are still on trial, accused of spying for Poland.
  • Tolkien was trained as a British spy. Novelist JRR Tolkien, whose day occupation was in linguistics research, secretly trained as a British government spy in the run up to World War II, new documents have disclosed.

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News you may have missed #0014

  • Belarus releases US lawyer jailed for industrial espionage. Emmanuel Zeltser who spent a year in jail in Belarus, is a lawyer with “a vast knowledge of organized crime, particularly the practice of money laundering”.
  • US Pentagon supplying intelligence to Pakistani armed forces. IntelNews has been keeping an eye on the intelligence side of the ongoing Pakistani offensive in the country’s North-West Frontier Province. Chinese intelligence involvement has already been established, and there have been allegations of Indian and Israeli involvement. It has now emerged that the US military has resumed surveillance flights over Pakistan, a clear sign of increased US-Pakistani intelligence collaboration.
  • US Congressional intel committee issues warnings. The US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has approved, as expected, the 2010 fiscal intelligence authorization bill, but it said that “funding for cybersecurity programs may need to be reduced or slowed until the future direction for cybersecurity is better defined”. It also urged US intelligence agencies to expand ethnic diversity among employees and improve training on foreign languages.

Belarus puts on trial members of alleged Polish military spy ring

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Very little information has appeared in Western news outlets of an ongoing trial in Belarus of four army officers accused of spying for Poland. The four, all of whom are Belarusian, are accused by Belarus security officials of collaborating with Polish intelligence agents by providing them with classified data on Belarusian military technologies, as well as with information on Russia’s air defense system, of which Belarus is a partner. A fifth alleged member of the spy ring, who is a Russian military officer, is facing similar charges in Moscow. The four Belarusians were reportedly arrested several months ago by the KGB, Belarus’ intelligence service. The discovery of the alleged spy ring led to a major political scandal in Minsk, prompting the dismissal of KGB’s director, Stepan Sukhorenko, by Belarus’ longtime President, Alexander Lukashenko. If convicted of treason and espionage, the army officers could technically face the death penalty under Belarusian law.

Article on formerly unknown Soviet spy published

George Koval

George Koval

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On November 2, 2007, some of Russia’s most senior military and intelligence officials gathered at the Kremlin to honor a Soviet spy whose name was until then completely absent from the annals of espionage history. Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) chief Valentin Korabelnikov were among several officials who joined Russian president Vladimir Putin to pay tribute to George Koval. Koval was an American citizen born in Iowa to immigrant parents from Belarus. In 1932, Koval, his parents and two brothers, all of whom were US citizens, moved back to the then rapidly developing Soviet Union to escape the effects of the Great Depression. It was there that the young George Koval was recruited by the GRU, the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces. He received Soviet citizenship and returned to the US through San Francisco in October 1940. Read more of this post