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 #616

CSIS seal

CSIS seal

►►S. Koreans say several N. Korean assassination bids stopped. South Korea has arrested several North Korean agents for plotting to assassinate anti-Pyongyang activists, according to Won Sei-Hoon, head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, who spoke to the parliament’s intelligence committee. Earlier this month, Seoul prosecutors charged a North Korean agent with trying to murder Park Sang-Hak, an outspoken activist in Seoul, with a poison-tipped weapon.
►►MI5 inspectors’ website shut down after security blunder. A new website for the former High Court judges responsible for oversight of MI5, MI6 and wiretapping has been shut down after it emerged that anyone could edit any page of it. The security blunder forced the Intelligence Services Commissioner, Sir Mark Waller, and the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, to pull the plug on their new website.
►►Report urges Canadian spies to share more info with diplomats. Canada’s spy agency needs to share more information with the Department of Foreign Affairs so the department is better prepared for negative reactions to Canadian intelligence work overseas, according to a new report by Canada’s Security Intelligence Review Committee. The Committee, which reports to Parliament on the work of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, found the organization had “limited exchanges” with Canada’s diplomats on its operations.

South Korea charges North Korean agent caught carrying ‘poison-tipped needle’

Park Sang-hak

Park Sang-hak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The South Korean government has formally pressed charges against a North Korean defector, whom it accuses of trying to kill an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist living in the South, with the use of a poison-tipped needle. As intelNews reported last month, a man identified only as ‘Ahn’ was arrested at a subway station in southern Seoul, as he tried to assassinate Park Sang-Hak. The alleged target of the assassination is a high-profile North Korean defector known for spearheading an imaginative —and often controversial— propaganda campaign directed against the government of North Korea. In one recent case, Park, along with his wife and children, employed dozens of inflatable helium balloons to smuggle thousands of leaflets, dollar bills, solar-powered radios, and DVDs into North Korea. According to the Korean Central Prosecutor’s Office in Seoul, Park’s activities prompted Pyongyang to employ ‘Ahn’, a North Korean former Special Forces commando, to try to kill the anti-communist propagandist. According to South Korean officials, ‘Ahn’, has operated as a North Korean sleeper agent ever since his relocation to Seoul, in the late 1990s. In the summer of 2011, ‘Ahn’ contacted Park and eventually managed to arrange a meeting with him at a suburban subway station in the South Korean capital for September 3. However, several days prior to the arranged rendezvous, Park received notice from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) that ‘Ahn’ was out to either kidnap or kill him. The alleged North Korean agent was arrested at the subway station at the time of his meeting with Park. South Korean government prosecutors claim that NIS agents found a poison-tipped needle in ‘Ahn’s’ possession, which they plan to use as evidence at his upcoming closed-door trial. Read more of this post

Seoul arrests N. Korean defector for ‘planning assassination’

Park Sang-hak

Park Sang-hak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
South Korean authorities have announced the arrest of a North Korean defector, who is accused of planning to assassinate another defector involved in intensive propaganda operations against the North. A man identified only as “Ahn” was reportedly detained earlier this month after arranging a meeting with Park Sang-hak. Park is a high-profile North Korean defector, known for spearheading an imaginative —and often controversial— propaganda campaign directed against the government of North Korea. In one recent example, Park, his wife and children, used dozens of inflatable helium balloons to smuggle thousands of leaflets, dollar bills, solar-powered radios, and DVDs into North Korea. The nature of Park’s operations, which tend to be designed to attract worldwide media attention, is often the cause of diplomatic rifts between Pyongyang and Seoul, which does not formally endorse Park’s actions. The Associated Press spoke to two South Korean officials, who refused to be named; although they confirmed news of Ahn’s arrest, they refused to discuss a report by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, and now the BBC, according to which Ahn “had a poison-tipped needle on him” when he was detained by South Korean counterintelligence officers. This is the second time in recent months that South Korea has arrested North Korean defectors on suspicion of planning assassination operations. In April of 2010, Seoul announced that two North Koreans, who had defected to the South a few months earlier, had admitted to being intelligence officers on a Pyongyang-sponsored mission to assassinate a North Korean former senior official. The official, Hwang Jang-yop, is a former secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party and the ideological architect of juche, the philosophy of self-reliance, which is North Korea’s officially sanctioned state dogma. Read more of this post