FBI ‘used Google Translate’ to indict alleged Syrian spy, claims lawyer

Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid

Mohamad Soueid

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The lawyer of a Syrian national accused by the United States of spying for Syria has accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation of resorting to Google to prepare the case against his client. Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid was arrested last summer and charged with conducting political espionage against Syrian and American citizens participating in demonstrations against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The alleged espionage appears to have been organized by members of the Syrian embassy in Washington, DC. A few weeks prior to Soueid’s arrest, the US Department of State had communicated to Syria’s ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, “a number of […] concerns with […] reported actions of certain Syrian embassy staff in the United States”. The concerns centered on confirmed sightings of Syrian diplomats conducting technical surveillance against Syrian opposition activists in several US cities. Soueid was subsequently arrested for allegedly gathering intelligence on protesters and planning an extensive intimidation campaign. But Soueid’s lawyer, Haytham Faraj, told the court last week that his client’s name, as transcribed in the FBI indictment, had been wrongly transliterated into English using Google Translate. He also wrote in a court filing that the prosecution had “demonstrated a serious deficit in its ability to translate recorded conversations from Arabic into English”. Soueid’s defense also argues that federal prosecutors appear “to have taken extensive liberties with a playful [telephone] conversation” between the accused and his wife back in Syria, eventually producing an English-language translation “that has no basis in fact”. In one case highlighted by the defense, the accused allegedly told his wife that the Syrian intelligence agency was monitoring telephone calls; but in English, the phrase was changed to say “this phone belongs to intelligence agency”. Read more of this post

US summons Syrian ambassador for spying on protesters

Imad Moustapha

Imad Moustapha

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
American government officials acknowledged late last week that they warned Syria’s ambassador to Washington to stop his diplomats from spying on anti-government activists operating in the United States. The State Department said that Eric Boswell, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, summoned the ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic, Imad Moustapha, and conveyed “a number of […] concerns with […] reported actions of certain Syrian embassy staff in the United States”. The concerns center on what appear to be confirmed sightings of Syrian diplomats conducting technical surveillance against Syrian and American citizens participating in demonstrations and other legal political activities in several US cities. There are also reports that intelligence gathered by Syrian diplomats in the United States is used by the Syrian security services in Syria to intimidate family members of Syrian and Syrian-American dissidents who are active in the United States. According to The Washington Times, the State Department was first alerted to the alleged political surveillance by the activists themselves, who began noticing in June the presence of suspected Syrian government informants in their Washington gatherings. Read more of this post