Closed-door trial of Soviet/Russian sleeper agents starts in Germany

The Anschlags' house in MeckenheimBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
A married couple accused of spying on Germany on behalf of the Soviet Union and Russia for over two decades has gone on trial in Stuttgart. Andreas Anschlag, 54, and his wife, Heidrun, 48, were arrested in October 2011 by GSG-9, the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police. They were later charged with having spied since at least 1990 for the Soviet KGB’s First Chief Directorate and its post-Soviet successor organization, the SVR. German federal prosecutors also accuse the couple of document forgery, since their Austrian passports, which they used to enter West Germany from Mexico in 1988 (Andreas) and 1990 (Heidrun) are believed to be counterfeit. There is also speculation that the couple’s surname may in fact be an alias given to them by their intelligence handlers. Upon entering West Germany in 1988 and 1990, the Anschlags initially settled in Aachen, on the German-Belgian border, before moving to Meckenheim, a small town with a population of less than 30,000 located a few miles southwest of Bonn. They concentrated on blending into German society, while raising their son daughter and leading what their neighbors describe as a “discreet life”. Over the years, they managed to recruit a number of informants, including a Dutch diplomat identified by authorities in Holland only as ‘Raymond P’. The diplomat, who was arrested last June, is believed to have given the Anschlags nearly 500 classified documents originating from the German armed forces, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Read more of this post

FBI busts alleged Russian spy ring, 11 arrested [updated]

Anna Chapman

Anna Chapman

Ten members of an alleged Russian spy ring operating in America’s East Coast were arrested in a series of coordinated raids on Sunday. US Department of Justice insiders said that the arrests, which took place in Arlington, New Jersey, New York, and Boston, marked the culmination of an FBI counterintelligence operation initiated during the second administration of President Bill Clinton. It appears that the alleged Russian agents were non-official-cover (NOC) operatives, otherwise known as ‘illegals’, a term used to identify deep-cover intelligence operatives not associated with the diplomatic representation of the Russian Federation in the United States. Eight of the arrestees were married couples and all were using fake identities. Almost all are fluent in several languages; they include “Vicky Pelaez”, who worked for a New York Spanish-language newspaper, another woman identified as “Anna Chapman” (see photo), and “Mikhail Semenko”, who is said to be fluent in English, Spanish, Russian, and even Mandarin. An eleventh alleged member of the spy ring, named as “Christopher R. Metsos”, remains at large and is wanted by the FBI was captured by Greek-Cypriot authorities at Larnaca airport earlier today, while trying to board a flight for Hungary. Read more of this post

Did missing Polish intel officer defect to Russia?

Stefan Zielonka

Stefan Zielonka

We have been keeping an eye on the mysterious case of Stefan Zielonka, a senior SIGINT officer with Poland’s Military Intelligence Services (SWW), who disappeared without trace in early May of 2009. The seriousness of Zielonka’s disappearance stems from his extensive knowledge of Polish undercover intelligence networks operating overseas, including names and contacts of illegals –i.e. agents operating without diplomatic cover. Consequently, Polish intelligence officials have expressed fears that, if Zielonka defected, or was kidnapped by foreign intelligence agents, “much of the country’s intelligence network could be compromised”. The possibility that Zielonka actually defected increased after it became known that his wife and young child also disappeared. In December, a report in Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna claimed that the signals intelligence officer’s mysterious disappearance is connected with a “trail leading to the Far East”, with “all clues lead[ing] to China”. Earlier this week, however, Russian weekly Argumenti Niedieli suggested that Zielonka was in fact recruited by Russian military intelligence. Read more of this post

Venezuela silent as Colombia expels two alleged spies

Valledupar, Colombia


On Tuesday, the Colombian government announced the expulsion of two alleged Venezuelan intelligence agents, reportedly for conducting espionage operations on Colombian soil. The two, Jose Vicente Marquez and Diego Jose Palomino, were nabbed by counterintelligence agents of Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (DAS) in the northwest city of Valledupar, just a few miles from the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The two were reportedly found in possession of video footage of homes and vehicles, as well as “other types of material”, which so far remains unspecified. DAS director, Felipe Muñoz, said the two alleged agents appeared to be illegals –i.e. not affiliated with the Venezuelan embassy in Bogotá– having entered the country clandestinely on January 12, via Paraguachon, on the northernmost tip of the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0237

  • Christmas Day bomb plot exposes fissures in US spy community. As intelNews regulars know, turf wars between US intelligence agencies are nothing new. But lapses that allowed Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to board a Detroit-bound plane with a bomb on Christmas Day, and the finger-pointing that followed, have raised questions about supposedly sweeping changes made to improve intelligence-sharing after the 9/11.
  • Mysterious life of Soviet spy couple unveiled. Soviet agents Mikhail and Yelizaveta Mukasey were legends among illegals –i.e. international spies operating without diplomatic credentials. Now the Russian government is carefully releasing information on their activities and missions, which ranged from the US to Israel, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.

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New research reveals extent of East German spying in Canada

Helmut Muller-Enbergs


Previously unknown aspects of East German intelligence-gathering operations in Canada will be presented this coming Saturday at the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies in Ottawa. The new data was unearthed in Berlin by Helmut Müller-Enbergs, a researcher with Germany’s Office of the Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the Ministry for State Security of the German Democratic Republic (BStU). His findings show that the Stasi (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung), the main foreign intelligence department of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was able to gain “deep insights into the domestic and foreign affairs of Canada”. The feat appears impressive when considering that the GDR had no embassy in Canada until 1987. Read more of this post

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