News you may have missed #563 [updated]

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell

►►Colombia spy official imprisoned for illegal wiretapping. Gustavo Sierra Prieto, the former analysis chief of Colombia’s soon-to-be-dismantled DAS intelligence agency, has been sentenced to eight years and four months in jail for his role in the illegal wiretapping of government opponents, judges and journalists. But the main culprit in the wiretapping scandal, former DAS Director Maria Pilar Hurtado, is still hiding in Panama.
►►Cold War documents detail CIA interest of Canada. The CIA has declassified some of its Cold-War-era reports on Canada. The documents show that the Agency’s interest in America’s northern neighbor was mostly related to the its satellite R&D, as well as its economic sector, with a particular focus on Canada’s energy and minerals sector. There is also discussion in some documents of how to best utilize Canada’s energy resources in a possible war with the Soviet Union.
►►Ex-intel official says US must engage in cyberspying. Is it just me, or is there a calculated echo chamber developing by former senior US spy officials? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #559

Manuel Noriega

Manuel Noriega

►►Why did Pakistani spy chief secretly visit China? Reports reveal Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s main military intelligence agency, the ISI, flew on a secret mission to Beijing for urgent talks this Monday. China’s ties with Pakistan have traditionally been tense, and have become worse in recent years, because China accuses Pakistan of harboring secessionist Chinese Muslim militants. Some observers suggest that Pasha’s trip may have been more of a summons than a visit.
►►France to extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama. France has confirmed it will extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama, where he is wanted over human rights violations during his rule in the 1980s. The former Panamanian military leader is currently serving a prison sentence in France for money laundering. Speaking during his trial in Paris last year, the former US ally claimed that millions of dollars he deposited in several French bank accounts were CIA payments for his services, not income from illicit drug sales.
►►US intel budget drops by $500 million. More than $500 million would be cut from US intelligence agencies under a bill authorizing programs and spending for spying operations next year, Read more of this post

News you may have missed #533

María del Pilar Hurtado

María Hurtado

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The government of Colombia will –finally– officially request from Panama the extradition of Maria Pilar Hurtado, former director of Colombia’s disgraced DAS intelligence agency, who was granted political asylum in the Central American country last year. The Colombian government has been contemplating this move for some time, as the investigation into illegal activities by the DAS is progressing extremely slowly. In Iran, the government says that it plans to try dozens of American intelligence officials in absentia. The announcement has raised the possibility that Tehran may out US spies which the Iranians claim attempted to recruit locals as part of a sophisticated intelligence-gathering operation. One former CIA operative, Glenn Carle, voluntarily came out a few years ago, following retirement, and made news headlines last month, in connection with alleged CIA spying on American academic Juan Cole. Carle, who worked for the CIA for 23 years, in Africa, the Balkans and Latin America, among other locales, has written a book. It focuses on a several-month period he spent questioning a suspected leader of al-Qaeda. The interrogations took place in two countries, which he says he is not permitted to name.

News you may have missed #504

  • Israel spy pleads to Obama for release. United States Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel, has pleaded for his release in a personal letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was apparently handed to Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres when he visited the White House on April 5.
  • US-Pakistan spy feud boils over CIA drone strikes. The Pakistani government has voiced strong criticism of a fresh CIA drone attack, which has killed 26 people. But an anonymous US counterterrorism official, who spoke to the McClatchy news agency, said that “the Pakistanis should spend less time complaining to the press [about the drone strikes] and more time trying to root out terrorists within their country”.
  • Colombia to issue international warrant for ex-spy chief. Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office will issue an international arrest warrant for Maria Pilar Hurtado, former director of the country’s disgraced DAS intelligence agency, who was granted political asylum in Panama.

Colombians blast Panama for sheltering ex-spy director

María del Pilar Hurtado

María Hurtado

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Public prosecutors in Colombia have strongly criticized the Panamanian government for granting political asylum to one of Colombia’s former spy directors, who is facing charges of spying on opposition figures. María del Pilar Hurtado directed the highly disreputable Administrative Department for Security (DAS) from 2007 to 2008. But on October 31, she apparently left Colombia unobstructed, despite being among the chief subjects of a high-level investigation into political spying by DAS. Hours later, she surfaced in Panama, where she formally requested political asylum. The latter was granted on November 19, causing the amazement of public prosecutors in Bogota, who have accused the Panamanian government of subverting (what little is left of) Colombian justice. Hurtado is among 18 senior officials in the administration of Alvaro Uribe, a close ally of the United States and hardline proponent of Washington’s ‘war on drugs’. Critics of DAS accuse him of authorizing a massive program of political surveillance, which targeted the former Presidents, Supreme Court judges, prominent journalists, union leaders, human rights campaigners, and even European politicians. Read more of this post

Ex-Panama dictator Noriega describes ‘friendly ties’ with CIA

Manuel Noriega

Manuel Noriega

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Panama’s notorious former dictator, Manuel Noriega, has described what he called his “long, friendly relationship” with the CIA in court testimony in France where he is defending charges of money laundering. Speaking on the second day of his trial in Paris, Noriega argued that millions of dollars he deposited in several French bank accounts were CIA payments for his services, not income from illicit drug sales. Panama’s former strongman described in his testimony how he gained power with the help of the CIA in the small but strategically important Central American nation, in 1983. He also listed the services he provided to the CIA during the closing stages of the Cold War, in relation to Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran. But Noriega, who was deposed during the 1989 US invasion of Panama, said the US leadership and the CIA turned against him after he repeatedly refused to take part in a series of covert operations against the leftist Sandinistas government in neighboring Nicaragua. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0169

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