News you may have missed #761

Robert de La RochefoucauldBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►US aircraft company owner charged with supplying Venezuelan military. Kirk Drellich, owner and president of SkyHigh Accessories in Florida, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he illegally supplied Venezuelan military contacts with pressure switches and cooling turbines, as well as other airplane parts. Court documents indicate that the aircraft parts were to be used for Venezuelan F-16 jets, attack helicopters and other military crafts. Prosecutors in Florida have filed charges (.pdf), stemming from violations of the Arms Export Control Act, on three other individuals who are supposedly involved in the conspiracy to export arms to Venezuela. Other defendants in the case include Alberto Pichardo and Freddy Arguelles, both former members of Venezuela’s Air Force, as well as Victor Brown, a local businessman.
►►Trial delayed again in Delisle espionage case. As previously reported on this blog, the espionage case against Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, the Canadian navy intelligence officer accused of spying for Russia, has again been delayed. The attorney for Delisle requested an adjournment based on the governments disclosure of new documents and evidence in the case. The adjournment is expected to last until July 17.
►►Legendary WWII spy de La Rochefoucauld dies. Robert de La Rochefoucauld, a French national who became a legendary British spy, helping direct and organize the Free French forces in England and underground movements in France during World War II, has died of natural causes at the age of 88. De La Rochefoucauld’s exploits as a spy have all the makings of a movie. As a little boy, he met Adolf Hitler, and as a spy he twice escaped execution by the Nazi’s. He was a knight in the French Legion of Honor, received the Medal of Resistance from France, was widely herald for his exceptional service by the British and he is believed to have been the last remaining French member of Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive.

News you may have missed #751

Leonid ShebarshinBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer remembers his KGB rival. In April, Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy”, was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment. Apparently, he had committed suicide. Now Milt Bearden, who was the CIA’s Chief of the Soviet/East European Division during the final years of the USSR, has written a piece in which he remembers Shebarshin. He says that, even though Shebarshin was “the closest thing [he] had to a main adversary” in the USSR, the two became friends in the late 1990s, despite the fact that Shebarshin remained a true believer in the USSR until the very end of his life.
►►NSA won’t reveal how many Americans it spied on. Last month, US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall –both members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence– asked the NSA how many persons inside the US it had spied upon since 2008. But Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has told the two Senators that giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of NSA’s oversight mechanisms, and that –ironically– looking into this matter would violate the privacy of American citizens.
►►Russian scientist who ‘spied for China’ freed. Igor Reshetin, the former director of Russian rocket technology firm TsNIIMASH-Export, who was jailed in 2007 for selling state secrets to China, has been released on parole. Reshetin had been initially sentenced to nearly 12 years, for illegally selling state-controlled technology secrets to a Chinese firm, and with stealing 30 million rubles (US$925,000) through a scheme involving bogus companies. His initial sentence was later reduced on appeal.

News you may have missed #708

Bertil StrobergBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Swedish Cold War spy dies at 79. Bertil Stroberg, a former Swedish air force officer, who was convicted of spying for Poland during the Cold War, but always maintained his innocence, has died, following a yearlong battle against cancer. He was sentenced to six years in prison for spying in 1983, but released on parole after serving three years. The key evidence in his case was a letter the prosecution said he had written to the Polish embassy offering to sell military secrets. The letter was signed Sven-Roland Larsson and asked that money be sent in that name to the Central Post Office. Stroberg was arrested when he went to the post office to collect Larsson’s mail.
►►US keeping Britain in the dark on intel issues. American intelligence agencies are increasingly keeping their British counterparts in the dark on key information, for fear those secrets could end up on full display in UK courts. “The Americans have got nervous that we are going to start revealing some of the information and they have started cutting back, I’m sure, on what they disclose”, Ken Clarke, the United Kingdom’s justice secretary, said in a Wednesday interview with the BBC. The American intelligence community has become wary about sharing sensitive intelligence with the UK ever since a 2008 court case forced the British government to disclose specific details on terror detainee operations.
►►Bush official says CIA ‘committed war crimes’. Philip Zelikow, who was a top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime”. What is more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under US law —“even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them”. Zelikow’s memo was an internal bureaucratic push against an attempt by the Justice Department to flout long-standing legal restrictions against torture.

Senior Soviet KGB ex-official found dead in Moscow apartment

Leonid ShebarshinBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy” was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment over the weekend. Police said a pistol and an apparent suicide note were found next to his body. In a separate statement on Saturday, law enforcement investigators said Shebarshin had shot himself. Born in 1935, Shebarshin was posted as an interpreter at the Soviet embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after graduating from the Moscow Institute of International Relations. He eventually became personal assistant to the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, who recommended him to the KGB. Shebarshin returned to Moscow in 1962 to attend the KGB’s training school, before being sent back to Pakistan in 1964, this time as an intelligence officer. In 1975, he moved to India, where he became rezident (station chief) of the KGB’s field station in New Delhi. Two years later he was transferred to the KGB’s field station in Tehran, Iran, which he headed through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1982, however, his meteoric rise within the ranks of the KGB was temporarily halted by the defection of Soviet Vladimir Kuzichkin, a Major in the KGB, who escaped to Turkey with the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6. The British brought Kuzichkin in contact with the CIA, which in turn passed along the defector’s debriefing notes to the government of Iran. This information led to the summary expulsion from Tehran of nearly 20 Soviet KGB field officers, including Shebarshin himself. After a brief period in Moscow, Shebarshin returned to the field, this time to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where he traveled at least 20 times. He was in Russia on August 19, 1991, during the so-called ‘August coup’, when a group of hardline communist officials took power in Moscow and temporarily arrested Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. But, even though he headed the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (now renamed to Foreign Intelligence Service), Shebarshin persisted in remaining neutral during the coup, and spent all of August 19 playing tennis at his summer residence. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #666 (superstition edition)

Gevork VartanianBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Soviet spying legend Gevork Vartanian dies. Legendary Soviet spy Gevork Vartanian, who helped foil Operation LONG JUMP, a Nazi plot to kill the three main Allied leaders in Tehran during World War II, has died in Moscow, aged 87. Operating in Tehran during World War II, he tracked German commandos, including the infamous Nazi operative Otto Skorzeny, who had arrived to attack a summit attended by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.
►►Turkey arrests ex-armed forces chief over coup charges. Turkish government prosecutors allege that Ilker Basbug, who retired as Turkey’s chief of staff in 2010, led a terrorist organization and plotted to overthrow the government. Remarkably, most English-language sources, including the Financial Times, managed to report Basbug’s arrest without mentioning Ergenekon, the ultra-nationalist network uncovered by Turkish police in 2007, which has resulted in hundreds of arrests, including that of Basbug.
►►Lebanon claims arrest of ‘longtime’ Israeli spy. The Lebanese army has detained a man on suspicion of collaborating for years with Israel’s Mossad spy agency. The man, identified as Elias Younes, is a retired employee of the state telecommunications company Ogero. Hezbollah-affiliated sources said Younes had been dealing with Israel for “over 35 years”. See here if you are wondering where you have heard before about Lebanese telecommunications employees allegedly spying for Israel.

News you may have missed #598 (US edition)

Brian Kelley

Brian Kelley

►►CIA officer wrongly accused of being KGB mole dies. CIA officer Brian J. Kelley, who was falsely accused by his own agency, as well as by the FBI, of supplying covert information to Moscow, has died at the age of 68. The real mole, the FBI agent-turned-spy Robert P. Hanssen, was apprehended in 2001, but not before Mr Kelley had been followed, interrogated, suspended and told that he might well be charged with a capital offense.
►►NSA working on secure smartphone technology. Troy Lange,  mobility mission manager at the US National Security Agency, says he is developing a secure smartphone that can be used to access classified information and apps while on the move. He is working on a pilot project using a smartphone that looks like any bought in stores but with security configurations to allow top-secret communication.
►►Kabul attack kills CIA contractor. An Afghan working for the US government killed a CIA contractor and wounded another American in an attack on the intelligence agency’s office in Kabul, making it the latest in a series of high-profile attacks this month on US targets. An anonymous US official in Washington said the Afghan attacker was providing security to the CIA office and that the American who died was working as a contractor for the CIA.

News you may have missed #573 (analysis edition)

Clair E. George

Clair E. George

►►New report details gaps in US spy collaboration. Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, US intelligence agencies are still struggling to strengthen the information sharing networks that broke down in 2001, according to the latest report by the US Congressional Research Service. Among other things, the 33-page report (pdf) points out that “agencies that obtain highly sensitive information are reluctant to share it throughout the intelligence community out of a determination to protect their sources”.
►►CIA Iran-Contra figure Clair George dies. Clair E. George, a consummate spymaster who was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair, has died. George was known for operating in what spies call the “night soil circuit” –the less desirable posts of the world. He worked in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He was the CIA’s station chief in Beirut when civil war erupted there in 1975. He then volunteered to replace the CIA’s Athens station chief, who had just been assassinated by November 17 Revolutionary Organization.
►►Here’s why CIA ‘mind control’ lawsuit was thrown out. A very good and succinct analysis of why a federal lawsuit against the CIA by the Vietnam Veterans of America, for allegedly subjecting US military personnel to chemical, biological and mind control experiments, was thrown out of court earlier this month. It includes the CIA’s court filing in a pdf link, here.

News you may have missed #317

  • Captured MI6 spy denied bail. Daniel Houghton, a former MI6 officer who allegedly attempted to sell British classified top-secret computer files to what he thought was a foreign intelligence agency (but were in fact MI5 counterintelligence agents) has had his bail application rejected.
  • Alleged Israeli spy arrested in Algeria. The Algerian security services have arrested an unidentified Israeli, who allegedly entered Algeria using a forged Spanish passport. No further information available at this time.
  • MI6’s top ranking female spy dies at 88. Daphne Park, the Baroness of Monmouth, who died Wednesday, aged 88, had a long career in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), which culminated in her appointment as Controller Western Hemisphere in 1975, the highest post ever occupied by a woman at MI6.

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