Murdered British businessman ‘was MI6 operative’ (we told you so)

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November, was an active informant for British intelligence at the time of his death. The news appears to confirm intelNews’ assessment of April 2012 that Heywood was in fact connected with British intelligence. A highly successful financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker who had lived in China for over a decade, Heywood was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. His death led to the dramatic downfall of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, a husband-and-wife team of political celebrities who were found guilty in a Chinese court of killing the British businessman. Immediately after Heywood’s death, there was widespread speculation that he may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service. On April 27, 2012, I argued that I was not aware of anyone “with serious knowledge of intelligence issues who was not completely certain, or did not deeply suspect, that Heywood had indeed collaborated with British intelligence at some stage during the past decade”. I wrote this in the face of an official denial by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who had said earlier in the week that “Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”. Now an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that the dead British businessman had been an MI6 operative “for more than a year” prior to his death. Read more of this post

Comment: Britain denies murdered businessman was MI6 spy

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain has officially denied allegations that a British businessman, who was found dead in China last November, was an intelligence operative. Neil Heywood, a financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker, who had lived in China for over a decade, was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. Widespread speculation that Heywood may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service, eventually prompted the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to ask Britain’s Foreign Secretary to clarify whether Haywood was a spy. The Committee wanted to know whether the late businessman had ever supplied intelligence “on a formal or informal basis” to Britain’s embassy in Beijing or its consulate in the city of Chongqing. Responding yesterday to the Committee’s query, British Foreign Secretary William Hague noted that “it is long established government policy neither to confirm nor deny speculation of this sort”. However, he added, the interest in this case made it “exceptionally appropriate” for him to “confirm that Mr Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”. In response to the second part of the Committee’s question, on whether the British expat shared information with British diplomatic officials, Mr Hague said that Heywood “was only an occasional contact of the embassy, attending some meetings in connection with his business”. He added that Heywood “was not known” to the British consulate-general in Chongqing. In its report on the story, British quality broadsheet The Guardian noted that Mr Hague’s response “did not fully answer the committee’s question”. Read more of this post

UK Foreign Secretary asked if murdered businessman was MI6 spy

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain’s Foreign Secretary has been officially asked by a parliamentary committee whether Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was found murdered in China last November, was spying for British intelligence. There is no question that Heywood, a financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker, who had lived in China for over a decade, maintained contacts with intelligence insiders. In the past, he had collaborated with Hakluyt, a business intelligence firm established and staffed by former officers of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency. British government sources have denied that the murdered businessman had ever been employed by the British state. But Heywood’s background —his schooling at Harrow, his background in international relations, his contacts with senior Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks, and his language skills— have given rise to intense speculation that he may have been an asset for British intelligence. Yesterday British newspaper The Daily Mail cited “a well-placed source” in claiming that Heywood “passed information to MI6 as an agent of influence”. Speculation about Heywood’s alleged contacts with British intelligence is bound to increase following news of an official request on the subject, issued to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The request, submitted in the form of a letter (.pdf) authored by Committee Chairman Ricahrd Ottaway, urges Hague to address “speculation” about the murdered Englishman’s profession. In the letter, Ottaway asks the Foreign Secretary to clarify whether Haywood had ever supplied intelligence “on a formal or informal basis” to Britain’s embassy in Beijing or its consulate in the city of Chongqing, where Heywood was found dead last November. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #709

Famagusta portBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►North Korea defector sentenced for assassination plot. The man, only identified by the Seoul Central District Court by his surname, Ahn, was sentenced on Thursday after being found guilty of plotting to kill Park Sang-hak, a leading anti-North Korea activist, last September. When apprehended, Ahn —a former member of the North’s special forces— was carrying a black torch that was actually a gun capable of firing a projectile around 30 feet and a bullet coated with a poisonous chemical. Another weapon that he was carrying was disguised as a fountain pen that could fire a bladed projectile, while a second ballpoint pen concealed a poison-tipped needle.
►►Russian arrested in Cyprus for alleged espionage. Media in the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus are reporting an alleged “espionage incident” at the port of Famagusta. The incident concerns a crewmember of the Russian cargo ship Natali 1, which is docked there. Police authorities say they arrested the Russian national, identified as Nanec Hikov, after he was caught taking photos of Turkish warships. Photographing or filming in the port area is strictly forbidden by Turkish occupation authorities. The Russian Embassy has been informed and the sailor remains in custody.
►►Mystery deepens over death of UK intel expert in China. Last week, the British Foreign Office confirmed that it had asked China to open a fresh ivestigation into the November 14 death of British businessman and intelligence specialist Neil Heywood . The Foreign Office said other businessmen in Beijing had suggested there may have been foul play. Diplomatic sources suggested that the Foreign Office had acted on information given by Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, where Heywood died, to the United States consulate in Chengdu, in February.

News you may have missed #705

Neil HeywoodBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►UK man found dead in China had links to intel company. It has emerged that Neil Heywood, a British citizen and China expert, who was recently found dead in a hotel room in China, was an adviser to Hakluyt, a corporate intelligence firm founded by former MI6 officers. Hakluyt has confirmed that Heywood prepared periodic reports for it, but said he had not been working for the company at the time of his death.
►►Analysis: Iraq war ghosts haunting CIA in tackling Iran. At America’s top spy agency, the ghosts of Iraq are never far away. One CIA analyst who had helped develop some of the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction had a breakdown, months after the Iraq war began; he had participated in the post-invasion hunt there that found the weapons did not exist. When he eventually was given a new assignment assessing Iran’s nuclear program, he confided a fear to colleagues: that the intelligence community might get it wrong again.
►►Interview with African-American CIA official. Starting in the early 1980s, as a standout undergraduate student at Colgate University, Harvard-trained lawyer and master of several languages, Justin Jackson is now the most senior African-American at the CIA. From 1983 to 2010, he served under five presidents and 10 CIA directors. “My job was to collect foreign intelligence from those human sources who were reporting on the plans and intentions of our adversaries. I also conducted covert action as directed by the administration and I ran counterintelligence operations to detect efforts that foreign countries were making against us”, he says.