Dual US-Russian citizen pleads guilty to spying for Russia

Alexander FishenkoA resident of Texas, who is accused by United States authorities of setting up a front company in order to illegally acquire American technology on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services, has pleaded guilty to espionage charges. Alexander Fishenko, 49, was one of 11 people arrested in October 2012 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The arrests came during several raids in locations around Houston, Texas, which included the headquarters of Arc Electronics, Inc. The FBI accused the export firm of having shipped over $50 million-worth of military-grade micro-electronics since 2008. The supplies were received in Moscow, Russia, by a mysterious procurement company called Apex System LLC. Counter-intelligence investigators in the US claim that both firms are part of an elaborate scheme set up by Russian military intelligence, aimed at stealing dual-use electronics hardware created by American firms.

According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. Federal prosecutors said that, for over four years, Arc Electronics engaged in a prolonged “surreptitious and systematic” scheme to circumvent US government export controls, thus seriously damaging US national security. Following the early-morning raids, the FBI unsealed indictments against 11 Arc Electronics employees, most of whom were charged with “acting as unregistered agents of the Russian Federation in the United States” —legal jargon for espionage.

Fishenko, who is originally from Kazakhstan, was scheduled to face trial on September 21 in New York. But on Wednesday he chose to plead guilty to the charges leveled against him. He is the fifth member of the 11 Apex System employees arrested back in 2012 to plead guilty to espionage. A government spokesman said the Fishenko’s plea did not result from an agreement to cooperate with the FBI. He now faces up to 15 years in prison. His lawyer, Richard Levitt, declined comment when he was contacted on Wednesday. The Russian government has denied that it had any involvement with Fishenko’s operations.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 08 September 2015 | Permalink

Moscow denies knowledge of alleged Russian spy ring busted in Texas

Alexander FishenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Government officials in Moscow have denied knowledge of an alleged Russian spy ring, which is accused by United States authorities of procuring sensitive microelectronics technology on behalf of the Russian military. Early on Wednesday morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted pre-dawn raids at several locations in Houston, Texas, and arrested eight members of the alleged spy ring. Four of the arrestees are allegedly Russian citizens, while the remaining five are from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Four are naturalized American citizens. They include Alexander Fishenko, chief executive officer of Apex System LLC, which is accused by the FBI of having exported over $50 million in dual-use microelectronic devices to Russia since 2008. US federal prosecutors allege that three more spy-ring members are currently in Moscow; they include Yuri Savin, Director of Marketing at a company called Artrilor, which is said to have been at the receiving end of Apex System’s export operations. According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. The FBI says it has in its possession extensive audio intercepts of the suspects communicating with Russian intelligence, as well as conferring among them about how to hide incriminating documents from US federal authorities. But Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, told Russian reporters on Thursday that the charges against the 11 individuals were “of a criminal nature” and had “nothing to do with intelligence activity”. Read more of this post

FBI raids alleged Russian front-company, indicts 11 on spy charges

Russian Ministry of DefenseBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has indicted employees of an alleged Russian front-company in Texas, accused of procuring sensitive microelectronics technology for use by Russian military and intelligence agencies. Public prosecutors in New York said yesterday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted raids in locations around Houston, Texas, which included the headquarters of Arc Electronics, Inc. The export firm is accused of having shipped over $50 million-worth of military-grade microelectronics since 2008. The supplies were received in Moscow, Russia, by a mysterious procurement company called Apex System LLC. Counterintelligence investigators in the US claim both firms are part of an elaborate scheme set up by Russian military intelligence, aimed at stealing dual-use electronics hardware created by American firms. According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. Federal prosecutors said that, for over four years, Arc Electronics engaged in a prolonged “surreptitious and systematic” scheme to circumvent US government export controls, thus seriously damaging US national security. Following the early-morning raids, the FBI unsealed indictments against 11 Arc Electronics employees, most of whom were charged with “acting as unregistered agents of the Russian Federation in the United States” —legal jargon for espionage. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #657

Israel and IranBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israeli company exported Internet-monitoring hardware to Iran. Israel bans all trade with its enemy, Iran. It turns out, however, that Israeli Internet-monitoring equipment has been finding its way to Iran for years, through Denmark. An Israeli company shipped the equipment to Denmark, where workers stripped away the packaging and removed the labels, before forwarding it to Iran. Now Israeli trade, customs and defense officials say they “did not know” that the systems were ending up in Iran.
►►Court decision revives NSA lawsuits. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the case of Jewel v NSA, which claims that after the 2001 terrorist attacks the NSA began large-scale monitoring of digital traffic, with the assistance of AT&T and others, can proceed. At the same time, the court denied leave to continue on a linked case against AT&T, for aiding and abetting the surveillance. The court upheld the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) revision, voted for by the current president, which grants the telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from any actions carried out during the period.
►►Czechs charged with espionage in Zambia sent home. Three Czech citizens, who were detained in Zambia on October 12, 2011, and charged with espionage, have returned home, the Czech Foreign Ministry said Sunday. A ministry spokesman declined to give any details on the return of the three Czechs, who were arrested after they were found taking pictures near military sites.

Indian government tells telecoms to avoid buying Chinese hardware

Huawei logo

Huawei logo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Indian government has asked the country’s telecommunications companies to “refrain from buying Chinese telecommunications equipment”, because they may be used by Beijing to spy on India. The request was reportedly delivered to Indian telecommunications industry representatives by officials from India’s Department of Telecommunications, in a closed-door meeting earlier this week. Indian media report that the Department’s request has no legal backing, but is simply a call for Indian telecommunications providers to “self-regulate”. But the government is said to be working on official guidelines to restrict the domestic use of telecommunications hardware and software originating from countries considered “unfriendly” to India, including Pakistan, China and Egypt. Some industry observers have expressed fears that the pending restrictions will severely hinder the growth of India’s rapidly rising telecommunications sector. Read more of this post

Was woman convicted of hi-tech exports to Iraq victim of CIA plot?

Dawn Hanna

Dawn Hanna

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The case of a Detroit woman convicted of exporting mobile communications equipment to the Saddam Hussein regime took an unexpected turn this week, after the man who mediated in the equipment transfer said he was acting on behalf of the CIA. A Detroit jury convicted Dawn Hanna last March for exporting the hi-tech equipment to Iraq, in violation of a US and UN-imposed embargo against the Saddam Hussein regime. The jury was apparently not convinced by Hanna’s claim that the purchaser of the equipment, who mediated in the transfer, had told her that the intended user of the hardware was the government of Turkey. But the case turned more complex this week, after Emad al-Yawer, a Jordanian businessman who mediated in the transfer, gave an interview to a Detroit TV station, in which he claimed he was working for the CIA when he facilitated the mobile equipment transfer. He told the station that the CIA intended to use the hi-tech equipment to track Saddam Hussein’s movements, in order to “send a smart bomb and blow him into smithereens”. Hanna’s parents point to this new, unexpected turn of events, and are requesting that the case be reopened. But the judge has so far refused to grant a new trial.

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