News you may have missed #0203

  • N. Koreans arrested for revealing Kim Jong-Il’s whereabouts. A number of North Koreans have been arrested and could face execution for leaking to a South Korean Internet newspaper information on the movements of Kim Jong-Il’s February 24 trip to the city of Hoeryong.
  • Authority to spy on Americans unclear as PATRIOT Act expires. Controversial provisions in the Act, which grant US the government far-reaching domestic surveillance and seizure powers, are due to expire on December 31. These provisions will have to be discussed in Congress, “but only when the Senate isn’t backlogged by health care” according to insiders.

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News you may have missed #0106

  • North Korean succession rumor mill now silent. Rumors circulated last summer by South Korean intelligence sources, that Kim Jong Il was on his deathbed and was about to be replaced with his son, Kim Jong Un, have gone quiet, after the health of the “Great Leader” appears to have miraculously improved. Some now believe Pyongyang may have deliberately fed those rumors to discern reactions among senior North Korean officials in Kim John Il’s circle.
  • UK government issues apology for treatment of gay cryptanalyst after 57 years. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he is sorry for the “appalling” way World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was treated by British authorities for being gay. In 1952, Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency after admitting a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later, he killed himself. He is most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park, also known as Station X, during WWII, where he helped create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.
  • Ex-chief of Greek secret services to stand for far-right party. Yannis Korantis, who was axed two months ago from his post as chief of Greece’s State Intelligence Service (EYP), said he will stand for extreme-right party LAOS in next month’s parliamentary elections. Notorious neo-Nazi Dimitris Zafeiropoulos, who recently joined LAOS, said he would also stand for the party in Patras, in the northern Peloponnese. LAOS entered parliament for the first time in 2007, with 3.8 percent of votes and 10 parliamentarians.

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News you may have missed #0039

  • Russians suspect sabotage behind ICBM test failure. The FSB is investigating the reasons behind the test failure earlier this month of a Russian Navy Bulava-30 (SS-NX-30) sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile, which disintegrated 28 seconds after launch. The Russian Navy developed the ICBM specifically to avoid future US ballistic missile defenses.
  • CIA kept bin Laden son’s death secret for months. US officials think that Saad bin Laden was killed in a Predator drone strike earlier this year in Pakistan, but CIA has tried to keep the news secret, allegedly in an attempt to confuse al-Qaeda. You may recall that some time ago intelNews reported that some in US intelligence believed Saad had been given government protection in Iran.
  • US DNI sees signs of North Korean succession. The Open Source Center of the US Directorate of National Intelligence adds its voice to widespread speculation that Kim Jong il may be preparing to hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un.

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News you may have missed #0026

  • US Attorney General considers torture probe. The Associated Press is among several news outlets reporting that Eric Holder is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September of 2001.
  • Iran’s invisible Nicaraguan embassy. The US State Department has been raising alarm bells about the Iranians supposedly “building a huge embassy in Managua”. But nobody in Nicaragua can find any super-embassy, The Washington Post reports.
  • Kim Jonh Il likely to die soon, CIA tells S. Korean spy agency. According to South Korean sources, the CIA now believes that Kim Jong-Il’s chances of surviving the next five years are less than 30%. Last June, intelNews relayed reports that Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s third son, appears to be his father’s most likely successor.

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News you may have missed #0010

  • Kim Jong Il’s son to head North Korea secret police. Since 1987, Kim Jong Il has been the official leader of the State Security Department of North Korea. However, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo reports that Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s third son, has now been named as the agency’s head. There are rumors in South Korea that the move could signify that a handover of power in Pyongyang may be imminent.
  • First US economic espionage trial winds down. A US court is preparing to sentence Dongfan “Greg” Chung, a Chinese-born engineer accused of passing critical trade secrets on the US space program to China for three decades. 
  • US and Venezuela to restore expelled ambassadors. The move appears to be a thawing gesture toward the new leadership in Washington by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Latin American leader has toned down his criticism of US foreign policy since Barack Obama took office in January, partly because the US president is popular in Latin America in contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush. 
  • US to send ambassador to Damascus. Washington has confirmed it is to send an ambassador to Damascus, ending a four-year diplomatic absence in Syria. The US envoy in Syria was withdrawn in 2005, following the assassination of Lebanon’s former PM Rafiq Hariri. 
  • Cuban Five spy case an obstacle to US-Cuban thaw, says Havana. The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 and convicted of spying on anti-Castro exile groups on behalf of Havana. Cuba regards them as political prisoners and has lobbied intensively for their release. Cuban President Raúl Castro has said he would be willing to swap jailed political dissidents for the Five, but the US government has rejected the idea.

North Korean ex-spy meets Japanese abductee’s family

Kim Hyun-Hee

Kim Hyun-Hee

Relatives of a Japanese citizen abducted thirty years ago by North Korean agents have held a meeting with a North Korean former spy, who told them their relative is still alive. Yaeko Taguchi was among 17 Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean intelligence operatives in the 1970s and 1980s, and forced to familiarize North Koran spies with Japanese language and culture. The North Korean government, which has admitted conducting 13 of the 17 kidnappings, claims that Taguchi was killed in a car accident in 1986. But on Wednesday, Kim Hyun-Hee, a North Korean former spy who now lives in South Korea, told Taguchi’s son and brother that Taguchi was “her language tutor at a spy school in the North” and that she believes the Japanese woman is still alive. Read more of this post

North Korea accuses South of assassination plot against Kim Jong Il

The Ministry of State Security of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has issued a statement reporting the arrest of a North Korean citizen allegedly tasked with assassinating the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Il. The statement accuses the Republic of Korea (South Korea) of supplying the alleged assassin, whose last name is Ri, with sophisticated “speech and acoustic sensing and pursuit devices for tracking the movement of the top leader and even violent poison in the end”. It said that Ri was arrested while “gathering information about [Kim Jong Il’s] movements”. The government of the Republic of Korea has not commented on the allegations. The National Intelligence Service, South Korea’s primary intelligence organization, has said “it [is] checking the claim”. [IA]