Russian ex-spy sees link between Skripal and GCHQ officer found dead in 2010

Boris KarpichkovA former officer in the Soviet KGB, who now lives in the United Kingdom, is to be questioned by British police after alleging that there is a link between the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the mysterious death of a British intelligence officer in 2010. There has been extensive media coverage in the past month of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian former military intelligence officer who spied for Britain in the early 2000s and has been living in England since 2010. Nearly every European country, as well as Canada, Australia and the United States, expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack on the Russian former spy, which has been widely blamed on the Kremlin.

But eight years ago, another mysterious attack on a spy in Britain drew the attention of the world’s media. Gareth Williams, a mathematician in the employment of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, had been seconded to the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Britain’s external intelligence agency, to help automate intelligence collection. He had also worked with United States agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. But his career came to an abrupt end in August 2010, when he was found dead inside a padlocked sports bag at his home in Pimlico, London. It remains unknown whether his death resulted from an attack by assailants.

Last weekend, however, Boris Karpichkov, a former intelligence officer in the Soviet KGB and its post-Soviet successor, the FSB, said that Williams was killed by the Russian state. Karpichkov, 59, joined the KGB in 1984, but became a defector-in-place for Latvian intelligence in 1991, when the Soviet Union disintegrated. He claims to have also spied on Russia for French and American intelligence. In 1998, carrying two suitcases filled with top-secret Russian government documents, and using forged passports, he arrived with his family in Britain, where he has lived ever since. In an interview with the British tabloid newspaper The Sunday People, Karpichkov said that Williams was killed by Russian intelligence operatives with an untraceable poison substance, because he had discovered the identity of a Russian agent within his agency, the GCHQ. According to Karpichkov, Williams had befriended the mole, codenamed ORION by the Russians, and had realized that he was working for the Russians. The mole then allegedly told his Russian handler, a non-official-cover officer with an Eastern European passport, codenamed LUKAS, that Williams had grown suspicious. Read more of this post

MI6 spy found dead in 2010 may have used female disguise, says expert

Gareth WilliamsA British intelligence officer, who was found dead in his London apartment in 2010, was not a transvestite, as some media reports have speculated, but probably worked undercover dressed as a woman, according to a leading forensic investigator. Gareth Williams, a mathematician in the employment of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, had been seconded to MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, to help automate intelligence collection. He had also worked with several United States agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. But his career came to an abrupt end in August 2010, when he was found dead in a padlocked sports bag at his home in Pimlico, London.

The discovery of £15,000 ($20,000) worth of women’s clothing in Williams’ apartment caused some in the British media to speculate that sexual jealousy may have behind the spy’s death. British tabloid The Sun suggested at the time that Williams was “a secret transvestite who may have been killed by a gay lover”. There were also reports that police investigators themselves suspected that Williams’ death may have been the result of “a sex game gone wrong”. This appeared to be substantiated by the discovery that Williams had visited gay bars and drag nightclubs in London in the weeks before his death. Subsequent reports, however, suggested that law enforcement investigators described Williams’ death as “a neat job”, a term used to refer to professional killings. There have also been official denials by police that Williams’ murder was sex-related.

Now a leading forensic investigator has said that Williams was not a transvestite and that he probably dressed in women’s clothing for his job with MI6. Peter Faulding, who specializes in deaths within confined spaces, and has advised British and American law enforcement agencies, has previously spoken publicly against the theory that Williams locked himself in the bag. He said he tried without success to lock himself in the same type of bag 300 times before discounting the self-lock theory. Faulding spoke again to The Sun last week, this time to suggest that there is no evidence that the late MI6 spy was a transvestite. “The key question never asked was: were these clothes used for his job?” he said, referring to the feminine attire found in Williams’ apartment. He told The Sun that the clothes were “used for work, rather than pleasure”. “I am certain he made a very convincing female”, said Faulding. “He was slim, with feminine features, and as a cyclist he shaved his legs”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 21 September 2015 | Permalink

News you may have missed #820

H. Keith MeltonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►World’s best known spy collector displays his home. And now for something completely different. Most intelNews readers will be aware of H. Keith Melton, the author of more than 25 nonfiction works on espionage (including The Ultimate Spy Book) and the world’s largest private collector of spy memorabilia. The question is, where does he keep all this stuff? The 68-year-old author invited Forbes magazine to his Boca Raton house, which includes his two-story private spy museum. The article is here, a photo gallery here, and a video of the house (but not the museum) is here.
►►Acting CIA director criticizes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. IntelNews has ignored the commentary that has flooded the Web about Zero Dark Thirty, the feature film fictional account of the assassination of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. But when the Director of CIA, the agency behind the real-life operation to kill bin Laden, publicly comments, it is time to pay attention. Michael J. Morell, who took over as CIA Director from General David Petraeus last month, has criticized the film, saying it exaggerates the role of coercive interrogations in producing clues to bin Laden’s whereabouts.
►►British police says MI6 expert ‘killed himself’. British police say MI6 cryptology expert Gareth Williams, who was found dead inside a sports bag in August 2010, probably locked himself into the sports bag, where his naked body was found, and was not the victim of a hit by the security services. Williams, 31, worked for Britain’s secret eavesdropping service GCHQ but was attached to MI6 when his remains were found inside the bag in a bathtub at his London apartment.

News you may have missed #738

Gareth WilliamsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Pathologist says MI6 spy may have died alone. Leading British pathologist Richard Shepherd has told the BBC there is “credible evidence” that MI6 officer Gareth Williams died alone. Williams, a mathematician in the employment of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, was found dead in a padlocked sports bag at his home in Pimlico, London, in 2010. According to Dr. Shepherd, bags identical to the one Williams was found in, can be locked by someone inside the bag.
►►Turkey may indict Israeli officers Over Gaza flotilla raid. A prosecutor in Turkey has prepared indictments and recommended life sentences for four senior Israeli officers over the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla forcibly intercepted in international waters by Israeli commandos two years ago. The indictments, which have not been formally approved by the Turkish judiciary, could further strain relations between Turkey and Israel, which were once close but which deteriorated badly after the flotilla raid on May 31, 2010.
►►Czech secret services alarmed by drastic drop in funding. The BIS, Czech Republic’s counterintelligence service, is used to operating on Kč 1.149 billion (around US$60 million). According to the Finance Ministry’s plan, the agency’s budget will be reduced to Kč 911 million (US$45 million) in 2013. The news has prompted former interior minister and current member of parliament František Bublan to accuse the government of effectively leading to the spy service’s “liquidation”. But Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek argues that all state institutions must cut back in order to help achieve a balanced budget by 2016.

News you may have missed #724

Shakil AfridiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Aid group denies link to US intelligence in Pakistan. Aid group Save the Children denied accusations it has ties to US intelligence agencies in Pakistan. The organization’s denial came shortly after Dr. Shakil Afridi, a doctor the CIA recruited to help in the search for Osama bin Laden, told Pakistani interrogators that Save the Children played a role in his becoming involved with the CIA. Following Afridi’s interrogation, the Pakistani government banned some Save the Children members from leaving the country and aid supplies –including medical supplies– have been blocked by customs.
►►Is MI6 double spy’s case linked with Gareth Williams’ death? In 2010, British authorities jailed for a year MI6 employee Daniel Houghton, after he was caught trying to sell classified documents to MI5 spooks posing as foreign agents. According to newspaper The Daily Mirror, British police are now “probing a possible link between the Houghton’s case and the death of MI6 employee Gareth Williams, who was found dead in his London apartment in 2010. According to the paper, police detectives “want assurances from MI6 that Williams’ details [and] identity were not compromised” by Houghton.
►►Fears of spying hinder US license for China Mobile. China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider, applied in October for a license from the Federal Communications Commission to provide service between China and the United States and to build facilities on American soil. But officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department’s National Security Division are concerned that the move would give the company access to physical infrastructure and Internet traffic that might allow China to spy more easily on the US government and steal intellectual property from American companies. This is according to The Los Angeles Times, which cites “people familiar with the process who declined to be identified because the deliberations are secret”. US officials and lawmakers have expressed similar concerns about a Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturer Huawei Technologies, which is alleged to have contacts with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security.

Lawyer alleges MI6 withheld data in spy’s death

Gareth WilliamsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A lawyer representing the family of an MI6 employee found dead in his London apartment in 2010, has accused the British intelligence agency of deliberately withholding evidence from police investigating his death. The allegation was made on Tuesday morning at the Coroner’s Court in Westminster, London, during an official inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, a mathematician in the employment of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ. A few years ago, Williams was seconded to MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, to help automate intelligence collection. He had also worked with several United States agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. But his career came to an abrupt end in 2010; on August 23, he was found dead in a padlocked sports bag at his home in Pimlico, London. The bizarre murder case, which has preoccupied British media for 21 months, took a new twist this week, after it was revealed in open court that MI6 had failed to share nine computer memory sticks with officers of the London Metropolitan Police, who were investigating Williams’ death. It was also revealed that MI6 did not allow the Met to handle the case, due to its alleged sensitivity. Instead, MI6 asked for the force’s Counter-Terrorism Command (also known as SO15 Branch), whose officers have security clearances, to act as a go-between linking MI6 with the police. Government witnesses also disclosed that MI6 had searched the memory sticks without telling the police, and that it had failed to share with detectives a detailed list of Williams’ possessions. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #710

Jonathan PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►MI6 officer murder inquest to be held in secret. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has ordered that key evidence in the inquest into the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams is to be heard in secret. Williams, who was found dead in a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his London apartment 20 months ago, was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the British government’s signals intelligence agency, and had worked closely with the American security services.
►►GCHQ warns it is losing terrorists on the internet. Speaking of the GCHQ, the organization says that modern internet technology has left them unable to intercept calls which use new technology instead of traditional phone systems. Britain’s Daily Telegraph quotes “senior intelligence sources with detail knowledge of the problem”, who say that GCHQ technical experts have seen their access to telephone intercept information “eroded” by the use of the technologies such as Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, which route telephone calls over the world wide web.
►►Israel pressures Obama to release Jewish spy. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again called on the United States to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard after the former US Navy intelligence analyst was hospitalized this week. Pollard, an American of Jewish descent, was sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago for leaking classified documents to Israel. Many Israelis believe the sentence was too harsh and officials often demand his release. But Democratic and Republican administrations in the US have repeatedly refused Israeli appeals to release the convicted spy.

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 #706

Akhmed ZakayevBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►UK government accuses Chechen of assassination plot. The British government and intelligence services have accused an alleged henchman of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov of seeking to assassinate Akhmed Zakayev, a prominent exiled Chechen politician in London, who was granted asylum there in 2003. According to court documents, British government lawyers asking to deport a 45-year-old, Chechen-born, former elite soldier, referred to only as E1. They told judges that E1 was a threat to national security and had been implicated in a 2009 assassination on behalf of Mr Kadyrov in Vienna. Mr Zakayev, a former actor and self-described separatist leader, said in a recent interview that he believed “there are more Russian spies in Britain today than there were during the Cold War”.
►►Israeli ex-soldiers arrested in Colombia on drugs charges. Eight Israelis have been arrested in Colombia on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and exploitation of minors, the country’s chief prosecutor has told local media outlets. The suspects, who were described in the reports as “former military men”, include former Israeli army Lt. Col. Yair Klein, who was convicted by a Colombian court and sentenced in absentia to nearly 11 years in prison for training drug traffickers’ assassins in the late 1980s. US and British investigations determined two decades ago that Klein was also involved in smuggling 400 Galil assault rifles and 100 Uzi sub-machine guns bought from Israeli into Colombia in 1989 when his plans to create a mercenary-ran training camp on the Caribbean island of Antigua unraveled.
►►Lawyer alleges MI6 agent was killed by ‘secret services’. A coroner has been told that Gareth Williams, an MI6 spy found dead inside a locked duffle bag in his London apartment could have been killed by someone who specialized in “the dark arts of the secret services”. The allegation was made by Anthony O’Toole, who represented the Williams family at an interim hearing ahead of the full inquest into Gareth Williams’ death. O’Toole said that there was “a high probability that there was a third party present in the flat” at the time. He added that “the unknown third party was a member of some agency specializing in the dark arts of the secret services, and perhaps evidence was removed from the scene post mortem by an expert in those dark arts”.

News you may have missed #692

Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-IslamBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Mole theory over MI6 codebreaker’s death. It is one of Britain’s most baffling spy mysteries. In 2010, the body of expert code breaker Gareth Williams was found locked in a large sports bag in the bathtub of his London flat. There were no obvious signs of how he died or who was responsible —with many claiming a “wall of silence” surrounding his death points to a cover-up at the very heart of the British establishment. And now it has been revealed Gareth may have been betrayed by a British double agent.
►►Pakistan picks new director for spy agency. The prime minister of Pakistan appointed a new general to run the country’s most powerful intelligence agency on Friday, signaling an important change in the military leadership at a pivotal moment in relations with the United States. Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam will take over as the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, on March 18, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has held the post since 2008.
►►Russian diplomat alleges 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria. Addressing a one-day humanitarian forum on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Russia’s deputy ambassador Mikhail Lebedev said rebels had recently committed large-scale attacks against Syrian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. Asked by Reuters how many foreign fighters were believed to be in Syria, he said: “how many got in through illegal routes? The border there is not demarcated, not delimited, so nobody knows. But at least 15,000”.

News you may have missed #575

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

►►Inquest into death of MI6 spy to go ahead. The inquest into the bizarre death of MI6 and GCHQ officer Gareth Williams will go ahead before Christmas without a jury, according to London-based newspaper The Express. The paper says that “12 spy chiefs will attend [the inquest] to explain the background to the case”.
►►Colombia’s ex-president denies role in spy scandal. Alvaro Uribe has denied, during a 3½-hour appearance before a Colombian congressional committee, that he ordered the country’s domestic intelligence agency to spy on judges, journalists and political foes. More than 20 agents of the DAS intelligence agency have been imprisoned for alleged roles in the spying. Two more have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences.
►►US spy research firm eyes stock market. IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, plans to introduce a new program to develop tools to help analysts “quickly and accurately assess petabytes of complex anonymized financial data”. According to a conference presentation, the program would help spies “analyze massive amounts of data to spot indicators of market behavior, find relationships between seemingly unrelated transactions across hundreds of global markets, and provide insight into specific events and general financial trends”.

News you may have missed #568

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

►►Lebanon intercepts covert arms shipment bound for Syria. It looks like anti-Syrian Lebanese groups, allied with former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, are smuggling Kalashnikovs and M-16s across the border to anti-government rebels in Banyas and other Syrian towns. The question is, where are these arms coming from? It is also worth noting that the Syrian army claimed last week that it has detained hundreds of Salafi fighters –including Afghans– with Lebanese documents.
►►Russian embassy cars seen near murdered MI6 officer’s flat. British paper The Daily Mail quotes an unnamed “former KGB agent who fled to London 12 years ago”, who says that he “logged two cars with Russian diplomatic number plates […] parked or driving close” to the central London apartment of MI6 and GCHQ officer Gareth Williams. The unnamed former agent says he noticed the vehicles around the time when Williams is believed to have been murdered in his apartment.
►►Indonesian intel reports on West Papua leaked. Hundreds of intelligence briefs from Indonesia’s elite special forces unit, Kopassus, have been obtained by Australian newspaper The Age. They include a detailed analysis of the separatist movement in oil-rich Western Papua. According to the Australian press, the reports “illustrate the level of paranoia in Jakarta about its hold over the resource-rich region”.

News you may have missed #493 (MI6 edition)

  • MI6 scientist’s death questioned by close friend. A close friend of MI6 worker Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a locked bag in a London apartment, has questioned suggestions that his death was linked to his private sex life.
  • Who killed MI6 agent Lionel Crabb? A relative of MI6 agent Lionel Crabb wants to know who killed him. Crabb is thought to have disappeared in a 1956 botched CIA/MI6 attempt to sabotage a Soviet warship docked at Portsmouth harbor. In 2007, Eduard Koltsov, a retired Russian military diver, said he killed a man he thinks was Crabb, as he was “trying to place a mine” on the Soviet ship.
  • Analysis: Libya gives spies a chance to shine. British officers of the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, are actively operating in Libya. Among their tasks is encouraging senior Libyan officials to defect to the West.

News you may have missed #430

  • Russians arrested outside US power plant. Police in the US state of Georgia have arrested one Kazakh and two Russian citizens, who were carrying “a machete, shovel, wire cutters and ski masks”, outside Georgia Power’s Plant McIntosh, at 1:00 in the morning. Hmm….
  • MI6 spy could have climbed into sports bag before death. British detectives reportedly believe that someone else padlocked GCHQ and MI6 employee Gareth Williams into the sports bag where his body was found on August 23. But they remain open to the possibility that Dr Williams climbed into the bag as part of a sex game and then suffocated.
  • Tamils claim espionage behind Canada HQ break-in. The Canadian Tamil Congress believes that lists containing the names of hundreds of Tamil asylum-seekers were stolen from its Toronto headquarters by Sri Lankan government spies.

News you may have missed #426 (Gareth Williams edition II)

  • ‘Turf war’ over Williams killing. British media claim that a turf battle has erupted between British police and the country’s external intelligence agency, MI6, with some police officers complaining that MI6 personnel are hindering their investigation into the death of former MI6 and GCHQ employee Gareth Williams.
  • Williams reported ‘being tailed’ before death. British tabloid The Daily Express claims that Gareth Williams feared he was being followed and told his superiors at MI6 he thought he was being targeted by foreign agents, several weeks before his death.
  • NSA expert doubts Williams killing was spy-related. Intelligence commentator James Bamford, who has authored several books on the NSA, GCHQ’s equivalent agency in the US, says that “leaving a body in a canvas bag sounds more like a jealous lover or drug deal gone bad than a political assassination”.