News you may have missed #0179

  • Iran charges three US citizens with espionage. If convicted, the three Americans, who claim they accidentally crossed into Iran while hiking, could be sentenced to death. Meanwhile, relatives of the three have angrily rejected the espionage charges in a joint statement.
  • Findings of spy reform committee ignored in South Africa. South Africa’s statutory bodies that oversee the work of spy agencies are ignoring the warnings of a ministerial-level Review Commission on Intelligence, which last summer warned that a steadily declining culture of accountability in South African spy services is threatening the country’s constitutional order. So much for the government’s heralded “major restructuring” of South African security services.
  • Colombia paid Ecuador informant to infiltrate FARC. The informant that Colombia was said last week to have handled in Ecuador (see previous intelNews coverage) was reportedly paid around US$2.5 million by the Colombian government to supply information on the whereabouts of Raul Reyes, former leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The informant, allegedly known in Colombian intelligence files as “JCRF” or “Pirata”, managed to infiltrate FARC, and may have been instrumental in Reyes’ killing by the Colombian military in Ecuador last March.

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Documents allegedly describe joint US-Colombian spy operations

Tarek El Aissami

Tarek El Aissami

A day after announcing the arrest of a number of Colombian intelligence agents on Venezuelan soil, Venezuelan officials presented what they described as “irrefutable evidence” of joint US-Colombian spy operations. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Venezuela’s interior minister Tarek El Aissami, said documents acquired in connection with the capture of the Colombian intelligence agents, show that their actions were part of “an ambitious CIA-funded operation”. Venezuelan security forces detained the two Colombians, Angel Jacinto Guanare and Eduardo Gonzalez Muñoz, along with an alleged Venezuelan accomplice, Melvin Argenis Gutierrez, on October 2, 2009, in the city of Maracay, 50 miles west of Venezuelan capital Caracas. El Aissami suggested that documents relating to the activities of the three men reveal that they were part of Operation FALCON, a joint project by the CIA and Colombian intelligence agency DAS, which aimed “to collect information about the Bolivarian National Armed Forces” and recruit informants from anti-government circles. Read more of this post

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