China charges its ambassador to Iceland with spying for Japan

Authorities in China have reportedly arrested the Chinese ambassador to Iceland on suspicion of spying on behalf of Japan, according to media reports. Ma Jiseng, 57, is a career diplomat who spent over eight years at the embassy of China in Japan. He was there in two separate stints, from 1991 to 1995 and from 2004 to 2008. In December of 2012, he arrived with his wife to Reykjavik, Iceland, where he assumed the post of China’s ambassador in the Nordic island nation. But, according to reports in the Icelandic media, Ma hurriedly left Reykjavik for Beijing on January 23 of this year, telling his staff that he was supposed to return in March. His wife followed him soon afterwards. Today, nearly eight months later, Ma and his wife have yet to reappear in the Icelandic capital. The plot thickened last week, when the online Chinese-language review Mingjing News published a news story claiming that Ma and his wife had been summoned back to Beijing and arrested upon arrival by Chinese authorities “for spying on behalf of Japan”. Shortly afterwards, Kai Lei, editor at the Hong Kong-based Wenweipo Chinese-language newspaper, blogged that Ma had been “arrested by [China’s] Ministry of State Security” on suspicion of “leaking international secrets to Japan”. According to the media reports, Ma was believed to have been recruited by Japanese intelligence during his second diplomatic stint in Tokyo, which lasted from 2004 to 2008. Interestingly, however, the reports about Ma’s alleged arrest began vanishing from Chinese news media websites just hours after they initially appeared. Reporters in Iceland turned to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said the Chinese embassy in Reykjavik claimed Ma was unable to return to Iceland “due to personal reasons”. Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuses to comment on the case. Read more of this post

Ex-CIA technician who leaked Verizon court order comes forward

Edward SnowdenBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Last week, British newspaper The Guardian revealed a secret court order that enables the United States government to collect the telephone records of millions of customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest cellular phone service providers. On the morning of Sunday, June 9, the individual responsible for leaking the secret court order came forward on his own volition. He is Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The 29-year-old computer expert, who has been working for the National Security Agency (NSA) for the last four years, told The Guardian that he decided to leak the injunction because he felt it posed “an existential threat to democracy”. He added that he was not motivated by money in disclosing the document. Were he after money, he said, he “could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich”. In a video published on The Guardian’s website, Snowden told the paper that his disillusionment with America’s “federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers” began even before 2007, when he was stationed under diplomatic cover at the CIA station in Geneva, Switzerland. He finally decided to act three weeks ago, he said, after careful consideration of the ramifications of his decision for his life and career.

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Essential links on WikiLeaks video of Iraq shooting



Whistleblower site WikiLeaks has released a leaked video taken from a US military helicopter in July 2007, showing US forces indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing 12 people and wounding two children. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency. There are several edited versions of the video, which can be found in its entirety here. Cryptome offers a series of selected stills from the leaked WikiLeaks video, with some visual analysis of the footage. It is worth keeping in mind that the leaked video is of substantially lower quality than what the US helicopter pilots saw, because it was converted through several stages before it was released by WikiLeaks. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #320

  • Wikileaks alleges US government surveillance. British quality broadsheet The Guardian is one of a handful of mainstream media outlets to seriously examine the allegation of Wikileaks, that its editor and co-founder, Julian Assange, became the target of “half a dozen attempts at covert surveillance in Reykjavik”, by individuals who said they represented the US Department of State. The article, written by Joseph Huff-Hannon, also cites intelNews.
  • Saudi charity wins wiretap case against NSA. The Saudi-based charity Al-Haramain was taken to court in September 2004 by the US government, which accused it of maintaining terrorist links. But the charity has successfully demonstrated that the National Security Agency engaged in warrantless spying on it. However, the judge limited liability in the case to the government as an institution, rejecting the lawsuit’s effort to hold individual US government officials personally liable.
  • Kremlin accused of KGB-style honey-traps. The Kremlin has been accused of sanctioning a Soviet-style honey-trap campaign against opposition politicians and journalists using entrapment techniques based on money, drugs and women. The allegations follow the release of a string of videos on the web purporting to show an opposition politician, a political analyst and the editor of the Russian edition of Newsweek magazine in compromising situations.

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Document release offers new clues on MI5 activities

Sam Wanamaker

S. Wanamaker

A batch of intelligence documents from the immediate post-World War II period released this week by Britain’s National Archives offer glimpses into previously unknown activities by MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence service. One set of documents shows that the MI5 closely monitored liberal Americans who escaped McCarthyism by emigrating to the isles in the 1940s and 1950s. Among such targets was Sam Wanamaker, father of actor Zoe Wanamaker, who played in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone among other films. Her father left the US shortly before being called to testify in Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. He became an important figure in British theater, but was monitored by MI5, who at one point considered including him in a list of domestic radicals to be “interned” during a possible military confrontation with the USSR. Another set of documents shows that British spies spent years looking for Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary, in places such as Switzerland, Italy and Brazil. Read more of this post

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