India expels high-profile Chinese journalists, allegedly for spying

Wu XiangFor the first time in history, India has refused to extend temporary residency visas for three senior Chinese media correspondents, effectively expelling them from the country, allegedly for espionage activities. All three reporters are employees of China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. They include Xinhua’s bureau chief in the Indian capital, New Delhi, Wu Xiang, and the agency’s Mumbai bureau chief, Lu Tang. A third journalist, She Yonggang, also based in Mumbai, has been asked to leave India by no later than July 31.

According to several Indian news media, the decision to refuse visa renewals for the Chinese journalists was taken after Indian intelligence agencies confirmed that the three were engaging in activities that “were incompatible with their journalistic capacity”. The phrase typically refers to espionage and related activities. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the Chinese reporters have been officially asked to leave the country by the end of this month. All three are reportedly reputable experts in Indian affairs. Xinhua’s Mumbai bureau chief, Lu Tang, is typical: a fluent Hindi speaker and Jawaharlal Nehru University graduate, she specializes in Indo-Chinese relations and has written for some of Asia’s most best known publications.

Indian sources have not confirmed that the decision to expel the journalists relates to espionage activities. Government officials insist that the three had let their visas expire four months ago and were staying in India based on temporary fortnightly extensions. The Indian government simply made the decision not to renew the journalists’ already expired visas, they said. When asked about his impending expulsion, Xinhua’s New Delhi bureau chief, Wu Xiang, said he and his two colleagues had not been given a reason for the Indian government’s refusal to extend their visas. Indian officials told reporters that Xinhua would be allowed to replace the three reporters’ posts. The Chinese government has not yet responded to the news of the expulsions. There are reportedly five Indian journalists working in China for Indian news agencies.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 July 2016 | Permalink

British journalists worked for MI6 during the Cold War: investigation

George BlakeBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Numerous notable journalists working for some of Britain’s most prestigious publications routinely collaborated with British intelligence during the Cold War, according to a BBC investigation. In 1968, Soviet newspaper Izvestia published the contents of an alleged British government memorandum entitled “Liaison Between the BBC and SIS”. SIS, which stands for Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, is Britain’s foremost external intelligence agency. The paper, which was the official organ of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, claimed that the foreign correspondents of most leading British newspapers secretly collaborated with the British intelligence community. It also alleged that the BBC’s world radio service had agreed with MI6 to broadcast preselected sentences or songs at prearranged times. These signals were used by British intelligence officers to demonstrate to foreign recruits in the Eastern Bloc that they were operating on behalf of the UK. At the time, the BBC virulently rejected the Izvestia’s claims, calling them “black propaganda” aimed at distracting world opinion from the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops, which had taken place some months earlier. But an investigation aired this week by the BBC Radio 4’s investigative Document program suggests that the memo published by the Soviet newspaper was probably genuine. The program says it discovered a memorandum in the BBC’s archives, which laments the embarrassment caused to MI6 by the Soviet claims. The memorandum, dated April 24, 1969, describes MI6 as “our friends”. The BBC program, which is available to listen to here, discusses the Soviets’ claims that several notable British journalists were MI6 agents. Read more of this post

Canadian reporter says Chinese news agency asked him to spy

Mark BourrieBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A longtime Canadian journalist says he resigned his post at China’s state-run news agency after he was asked to use his press-pass privileges to spy on a prominent Tibetan separatist leader. Mark Bourrie, an Ottawa-based reporter and author of several books, told The Canadian Press news agency that he was first approached by Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua in 2009. The veteran journalist was allegedly told by Xinhua officials that the agency planned to expand its news coverage of Canada and wished to compete with other international news services active in North America. Bourrie said that, upon joining Xinhua, he began to cover “routine political subjects”; gradually, however, his superiors started making “some unusual requests”. In one characteristic case, he was asked to report on the identities and contact information of political activists who had participated in legal protests against the visit to Canada of Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2010. Bourrie says he rebuffed such requests, because they did not seem to him to have journalistic value. In April of this year, Xinhua’s bureau chief in Ottawa, Dacheng Zhang, allegedly asked Bourrie to attend a keynote speech by the 14th Dalai Lama at the Sixth World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet, which was held at the Ottawa Conference Center. Based in India, the Dalai Lama is the most prominent international figure of the movement for the independence of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which has been ruled by the People’s Republic of China since 1951. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #747

Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich OlympicsBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►Dutch media reportedly spied on China. Dutch media participated in a clandestine intelligence collection effort on behalf of the Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. According to Dutch sources, at least seven reporters attending the Olympics were coaxed into, and were paid for, collecting information and taking photos of targeted Chinese officials interested in speaking with Dutch company and industry representatives. The AIVD did not comment on the allegations but did remark that Dutch law allows them to contact anyone who could provide or has access to intelligence.
►►Nicaragua arrests Colombian national for espionage. According to the Spanish-language weekly newspaper Semana, General Julio Cesar Aviles, the head of Nicaragua’s Army, announced the arrest of Colombian national Luis Felipe Rios, for seeking to “obtain Nicaraguan state documents about defense and national security”. The 34-year old Rios was apparently captured in Managua on Tuesday after having been under the surveillance of Nicaraguan counterintelligence officials for over a year. Rios was in Nicaragua under the guise of being a Spanish national working for a media outlet. The lead prosecutor in Nicaragua, Armando Juarez, claimed that there was “sufficient proof” to prosecute Rios. Colombian officials, including President Juan Manuel Santos, have stated they are investigating the matter.
►►Neo-Nazi linked to 1972 Munich Olympic terrorists. Recently released files by Germany’s security service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), links neo-Nazi Willi Pohl to forged passports provided to Black September terrorists who perpetrated the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics. The attack resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, over 2,000 documents were released in which the BfV asserts that Pohl assisted and even chauffeured one Black September member around Germany in the weeks leading up to the attack. German police arrested Pohl in 1972 for “unauthorized possession of firearms” and sentenced him to two years’ incarceration for possessing grenades and weapons. He was released only a few days after his conviction and he fled the country, ending up in Lebanon.

News you may have missed #615

Clair E. George

Clair E. George

►►Ex-KGB spy Litvinenko’s widow seeks donations. The widow of Alexander Litvinenko has appealed for donations to help expose her husband’s murderers. Marina Litvinenko said she has to know the truth about the Russian ex-KGB spy’s death in London on November 23, 2006. He died of radioactive Polonium 210 poisoning in London’s University College Hospital. He had fallen ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting with former KGB contacts at a West End hotel.
►►Memorial ceremony for controversial CIA figure. Clair George, who died in August from cardiac arrest at 81, has a rare status in CIA lore. He was the first high-ranking agency official to be found guilty of felony charges while carrying out official duties. Despite the public outrage about CIA actions during the Iran-Contra affair, George remained a popular figure among agency alumni because they believe his loyalty never faltered.
►►Taiwan intelligence agency accused of wasting money. Taiwan’s military-intelligence body has come under fire after one of its agents returned as a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef following a so-called undercover mission in France. The agent, whose U$42,000 tuition for the cooking classes in France was sponsored by the military, has now lent his Le Cordon Bleu certificate to someone else for a fee, according to reports.

Pakistan removed spy from US at CIA’s request

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Pakistani intelligence officer was quietly removed from the United States last April, after the director of the CIA complained about him to his Pakistani counterpart. According to The New York Times, which aired the revelation last weekend, the then Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, had “a tense conversation” with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), which led to the removal “within days” of the ISI officer. The officer in question is Mohammed Tasleem, whose diplomatic cover was that of attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York, but whose actual task was monitoring the political activities of the sizeable Pakistani diaspora in the United States. According to the FBI, which briefed the CIA about Tasleem earlier this year, his intelligence activities centered on pressuring politically active Pakistanis in the United States to refrain from speaking publicly on ‘controversial issues’. FBI counterintelligence reports claim that, on at least one occasion, Tasleem posed as an FBI agent, in order to extract intelligence from a member of the Pakistani community in the United States. The Times spoke to members of Pakistan’s ex-pat community who allege that the ISI systematically approaches Pakistanis speaking openly about ‘national issues’, such as the indigenous insurgency in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, the disputed Indian region of Kashmir, or Pakistan’s appalling human rights record. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #543 (CIA edition)

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer warns of Israeli attack on Iran. Few in the CIA are more knowledgeable about Shiite politics than Robert Baer, a veteran of the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, who spent over 20 years in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon. Last weekend, Baer spoke to Los Angeles radio station KPFK, and said that “[t]here is almost near certainty [in Israel] that Netanyahu is planning an attack [on Iran] and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict”. Baer is not alone in issuing such warnings in recent months. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan has been echoing Baer’s concerns. ►►Campaigners seek arrest of ex-CIA legal chief. We have written before about John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former Acting General Counsel, who has been termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”. Some readers may remember that Rizzo retired hurriedly from his post in 2009, amidst fears that he could get in trouble for acting as what some observers termed “a legal enabler” of the CIA torture practices under the George W. Bush administration. Now a group of human rights campaigners in Britain and Pakistan are seeking Rizzo’s arrest for his role in justifying the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, the legality of which is often questioned by experts. The CIA has refused to comment on the campaign to indict Rizzo. ►►Analysis: The fallout from the CIA’s vaccination ploy in Pakistan. We wrote on Monday that not everyone is amused by news that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Pakistan. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #542

Sir John Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-spy says MI6 cut corners to back Blair’s Iraq war case. Britain’s ongoing Iraq Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot, heard last week from a former spy, identified in documents only as “SIS2”. The witness said that MI6 was “probably too eager to please” the government and was guilty of “flying a bit too close to the sun”. He was referring to the intelligence support provided by MI6 in support of the case for entering the Iraq War, made by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony blair in 2003. He also told the committee that “the pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners”. ►►Medical group criticizes CIA’s vaccination scheme. A whimiscal tone prevails in most articles on the recent revelation that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But medical groups engaged in organizing vaccination schemes are not amused. French-based international medical aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières has lashed out at the CIA because, it said, by using a medical cover for its assassination scheme, the Agency endangered those who conduct life-saving immunization work around the world. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #454

  • Georgia lets Russian envoy visit jailed spy suspect. Georgia says it has allowed a representative of the Russian consulate to meet with a Russian citizen detained on charges of espionage. The jailed man is one of 13 individuals suspected of spying for Russia, who were arrested by Georgian counterintelligence earlier this month. Four of the detained suspects are Russian citizens and nine are Georgian nationals.
  • Danish agency aware of CIA spying since 2004. The Danish security services have released a statement saying they have known since 2004 that the US Embassy in Copenhagen was collecting information on Danish citizens. Last week, several Scandinavian countries launched investigations into the activities of intelligence gathering networks employed by US embassies.
  • Iran charges German reporters with espionage. Iranian officers detained the journalists, who were pretending to be tourists, as they conducted an interview with the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, condemned to death by stoning.

North Korean defector emerges in Austria after 15 years

Kim Jong Ryul

Kim Jong Ryul

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A defector, who was once a member of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s political protection team, has suddenly emerged in Austria, 15 years after faking his own death. Kim Jong Ryul is an East German-trained engineer who returned to North Korea in 1970 to work for Kim Il Sung, whose government tasked him with translating nuclear documents and making secret trips to the West. However, on October 18, 1994, while on a government-sponsored trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, he disappeared without trace. The North Korean government presumed he had been killed. But Kim had actually entered Austria, where he lived for 15 years as a defector. On Thursday, he gave a press conference in Vienna to promote a book about his life, written by journalists Ingrid Steiner-Gashi and Dardan Gashi, who based it on over 80 hours of interviews with Kim. Read more of this post

Italy busts arms smuggling network, arrests Iranian intelligence agents

Hamid Nejad Masoumi

Masoumi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Italian authorities have announced the arrest of two Iranians and five Italians on suspicion of smuggling European-made weapons and explosives to Iran. Italian police said the Iranians involved in the operation, which breached an international embargo on Iran, are “believed to be members of the Iranian secret services”. They are Ali Damirchiloo, 55 (occupation unknown), and Hamid Nejad Masoumi, 51, an accredited journalist and Iranian state television correspondent, who has lived in Italy since 1995. Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants for two more Iranians, Hamir Bakhtiyari Reza and Bakhtiyari Homayoun, who are also believed to be intelligence agents and are thought to have managed to escape to Iran. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #301

  • Six more arrested in Lebanon for spying for Israel. The Lebanese army has arrested at least six more people in southern and northern Lebanon, among them former army officers, on suspicion of spying sharing information about the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah with Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Dozens of alleged Israeli spy cells have been uncovered in Lebanon in recent months.
  • Survey of US spy agencies’ web presence. US intelligence agencies are using the Web to share information and engage the public. Some offer mobile versions and social networking tools –others badly need an update.
  • Danish journalist admits using job as cover to spy for Israel. Herbert Pundik, a Danish former newspaper editor, has admitted he used his journalism credentials to spy for Israel for a decade in the 1960s, saying he felt an obligation as a Jew.

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Real-life story behind Indian spy novel revealed

Mission to Pakistan by Maloy Krishna Dhar

Book cover

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A few years ago, Maloy Krishna Dhar, a longtime veteran of India’s Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB), wrote Mission to Pakistan, a spy novel about the ongoing intelligence war between nuclear powers India and Pakistan. Since 2002, when the novel was published, Dhar has maintained that the exploits of his protagonist, an undercover Indian spy leading a double life inside the Pakistani armed forces, were based on the true story of an unnamed CIB agent who was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It now appears that the real-life story behind the book is that of Ravindra Kaushik, an accredited CIB agent who moved to Pakistan from Dubai, converted to Islam, married a Pakistani woman, and joined the country’s Army under the cover name “Nabi Ahmed”. Read more of this post

South Africa busts Shin Bet operation, expels Israeli agent

El Al logo

El Al logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The South African government has expelled an Israeli intelligence agent posing as an airline worker, after the discovery of a major Israeli undercover operation at the Oliver R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The operation was uncovered by Carte Blanche, South African television’s most respected investigative news program, based on testimony by Jonathan Garb, a former guard at El Al, Israel’s national airline, who became a whistleblower after being fired from his job. Garb told Carte Blanche that El Al offices in South Africa and around the world have acted as fronts for Shin Bet, Israel’s General Security Service, for a long time. He also told the program that Shin Bet officers in Johannesburg used their El Al employee cover status to infiltrate the airport and gather information on black and Muslim South African travelers to Israel. Read more of this post

CIA deployed agents disguised as journalists, says ex-NSA analyst

Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Former NSA analyst and US Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen has said that the CIA deployed at least two operatives posing as journalists in several world hotspots after 9/11. The two operatives, both US Special Forces veterans, were subcontracted to the CIA by private mercenary company Blackwater, and were accredited as journalists by Korean-owned United Press International (UPI). Madsen, who authors the daily Wayne Madsen Report, says the two operatives were active in Uzbekistan shortly after 9/11. One of them secured a travel visa to enter Iran in 2003, where he allegedly “engaged in target analysis and spotting for a planned US attack on Iran” (this was presumably before Washington decided to axe the rumored plan to launch a direct military attack on Iran in favor of an intensive plan of covert sabotage, as detailed by The New York Times last January). Read more of this post