Embassy cables show US spied on UK Foreign Office

Ivan Lewis

Ivan Lewis

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The latest release of US embassy cables from whistleblower website WikiLeaks shows that the US Department of State ordered its diplomats to actively report on the personal lives of British Foreign Office officials. On several instances, American diplomats in London appear to have reported on the personal life of Ivan Lewis, a Labour Party politician who served as Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs during the closing days of Gordon Brown’s government. It seems that the reports on Lewis were compiled at the request of the State Department in Washington, which issued calls for specific background information on Lewis’ personal life. In response to the request, a memorandum was sent from the US embassy in London on August 12, 2009, suggesting that Lewis was “possibly prone to depression” and that he was described by one of his colleagues as “a bully”. The cable also indicated that Lewis had apologized “in 2007 to a female in his office who accused him of sexual harassment”, and suggested that the incident had been purposely leaked to the British media by Downing Street a few months later, after Lewis publicly joined the internal Labour Party revolt against Brown. Read more of this post

Breaking news: UK expels Israeli diplomat over Dubai assassination

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh


By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
While Israel continues to insist that “there is no proof” of its involvement in January’s assassination of a top Hamas military official, Britain has announced the pending expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the killing. At least 12 forged British passports were used by a Mossad hit squad, whose members traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, on January 19. Announcing the decision, British foreign secretary David Miliband said that the high quality of the forged passports made it almost certain that “a state intelligence service” was behind the operation, and that London had “compelling reasons” to suspect Israel. He told the British Parliament that “such misuse of British passports is intolerable” and that the fact that it was perpetrated by an ally of the UK added “insult to injury”. Read more of this post

US, UK spy agencies on alert after unprecedented court decision

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British and American intelligence agencies have been placed on alert following an unprecedented ruling by a British court, which forces the British government to disclose CIA documents in its possession. The documents relate to the case of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian resident of Britain, who says he was severely tortured with the collaboration of the CIA and British domestic intelligence agency MI5, after he was renditioned to Morocco. Last February, two British judges overseeing Mr. Mohamed’s case revealed that the British government kept “powerful evidence” secret after being threatened by the US that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. In July, it emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if evidence in Mr. Mohamed’s case was publicly released. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0165

  • UK demands Russians deliver spy assassin. David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary pressed Russia during a visit to Moscow on Monday to turn over Andrey Lugovoi, the main suspect in the 2006 killing in London of Russian former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. But, as before, Russia rejected the demand on legal grounds.
  • Analysis: Confusion in US intelligence secrecy policy. The decision last week by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify the FY2009 budget for the National Intelligence Program is inconsistent with other ODNI classification actions and highlights the confusion over the proper scope of national security secrecy that prevails in the US intelligence community today.
  • Equatorial Guinea pardons Western coup plotters. Four whites jailed for leading an alleged 2004 coup attempt in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea have been unexpectedly pardoned. They include Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African mercenary. The Guinean government cited…”Jesus Christ” in making the decision to pardon the coup plotters.

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News you may have missed #0148

  • Secret special service held to commemorate 100 years of MI5 and MI6. The Queen has attended an unpublicized special service at London’s Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of MI5 and MI6. It appears that the heads of the security and intelligence services were present for the unique ceremony in the cloisters of the Abbey. The service was also attended by prime minister Gordon Brown, foreign secretary David Miliband, and home secretary Alan Johnson, among others.
  • Canadian court ends spy services’ free rein in deporting foreigners. The Federal Court has dealt the government another setback in its attempts to deport alleged terrorists, based on the controversial security-certificate provision, which allows the government to use secret evidence in order to detain and deport foreigners. Thus, the deportation from Canada of Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui has been halted. Last July another deportation case, that of Hassan Almrei, a Syrian immigrant who was arrested in 2001 on suspicion of belonging to an Islamist-tied forgery group, was also halted on similar grounds.
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News you may have missed #0131

  • CIA active in UK, British MPs told. Charles Farr, the head of the British Home Office’s office of security and counter-terrorism, told members of the British Parliament that Britain had a “very close” relationship with the US intelligence community and that “declared” CIA personnel are active in the British Isles. IntelNews readers have been aware since last January that the CIA has been conducting “unprecedented intelligence-gathering operations in Britain”.
  • Denmark’s military spy chief resigns amid soldier book scandal. The publication of a book by Thomas Rathsack, former member of Jaegerkorps, an elite army unit, which reveals systematic breach of Geneva Convention directives by members of the unit deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, has prompted the resignation of the country’s military intelligence chief. Tim Sloth Joergensen announced his resignation on Sunday.
  • Wife of poisoned Russian spy criticizes Moscow visit. The widow of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated by radiation poison in London, where he was living after defecting to the UK, has criticized the prospect of a visit to Moscow by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. “That [Mr. Miliband’s] visit will take place exactly on the third anniversary of my husband’s poisoning is adding insult to injury”, said Marina Litvinenko.

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News you may have missed #0063

  • UK government ministers, MI6 boss, reject torture accusations. Britain’s home secretary, Alan Johnson, and foreign secretary, David Miliband, have rejected claims that the UK operated a “policy to collude in, solicit, or directly participate in abuses of [war on terrorism] prisoners” or to cover up abuses. The outgoing director of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, has also said that there has been “no torture and there is no complicity with torture” by British agents.
  • Ex-spy may succeed Kazakh leader. An unnamed senior security official may eventually succeed Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan for 20 years.
  • Congressman tells Holder to widen torture probe. Several news outlets are verifying earlier rumors (reported on by intelNews on July 13) that the Obama Administration is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September 11, 2001. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, has said he wants US Attorney General Eric Holder to extend the rumored investigation beyond CIA interrogators, and determine whether high-level officials of the Bush administration committed war crimes.

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