News you may have missed #489

  • Russian spies want their stuff back from the FBI. Two of the ten Russians deported from the United States in a spy row last July have demanded that some of the property they were forced to leave behind be returned to them. The claim was lodged on behalf of Vladimir and Lidia Guryev, better known as Richard and Cynthia Murphy.
  • Kuwait sentences three to death for espionage. Two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national, all serving in Kuwait’s army, were condemned to death yesterday for belonging to an Iranian spy ring, which allegedly passed on information to the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. A Syrian and a stateless Arab, who are also members of the alleged spy ring, were handed life terms.
  • ‘Foreign spies’ hacked Australian leader’s computer. Chinese hackers seeking information on commercial secrets are suspected of having broken into a computer used by Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister. Her computer was among 10 machines used by senior government ministers which were compromised by the hackers. According to one source, the Australians were tipped off to the hacking by the CIA and the FBI.

News you may have missed #460

FBI allegedly looking for Russian spy inside NSA

NSA Headquarters


American counterintelligence investigators are allegedly trying to uncover at least one Russian-handled double agent operating inside the US National Security Agency (NSA), according to information published on Wednesday in The Washington Times. The paper based its allegation on an interview with an anonymous “former intelligence official” with close ties to the NSA —America’s largest intelligence agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance as well as communications security. The anonymous source told the Times that the probe is directly connected to the arrest of nearly a dozen Russian deep-cover operatives by the FBI last summer. Washington eventually exchanged the Russian spies with several Western-handled Russian operatives captured by Moscow and held in Russian prisons. But the FBI allegedly believes that the deep-cover operatives, most of whom used false identity papers and had lived in the US for years, were primarily tasked with aiding at least one Russian-handled double spy operating inside the NSA’s Forge George F. Meade headquarters, in the US state of Maryland. Read more of this post

Did FSB leak Russian double spy’s name to the media?

SVR seal

SVR seal

The revelation that a double agent betrayed the ten Russian deep-cover spies, who were arrested in the United States last summer, may have been leaked to the media as part of a turf war between two rival Russian spy agencies. On November 11, Russian newspaper Kommersant disclosed that a senior officer in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) had defected to the United States shortly before the arrest of ten Russian deep-cover spies by the FBI, on June 27, 2010. The paper identified the alleged double agent as “Colonel Shcherbakov”, believed by veteran KGB officer Oleg Kalugin to be Aleksandr Vasilyevich Shcherbakov. The Kommersant disclosure was later confirmed by no other than Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But who leaked Shcherbakov’s name to Kommersant, and why? According to Pavel Felgenhauer, military and intelligence correspondent for Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, the leak originated from within the Russian intelligence establishment. Specifically, Felgenhauer suggests that it was Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) that leaked the information to the media, in an attempt to score points against the SVR. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #444

News you may have missed #421 (‘not news’ edition)

  • Not news: Senior Afghan officials on CIA payroll. The New York Times‘ Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins are right to air this story, but the real news here is the media industry’s collective gasp of fake shock and horror. Really?
  • Not news: Pentagon breached by foreign hacker. US Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn has disclosed that an undisclosed foreign spy agency carried out a serious cyberattack on US military networks with the help of a tainted flash drive that was inserted into a laptop in the Middle East. Ah, the old memory-stick gift trick
  • Not news: Sex-obsessed coverage of Russian espionage continues. Russian and US media keep avoiding serious analysis of post-Cold-War Russian intelligence operations by focusing on Anna Chapman. This is no surprise, since pursuing the real story behind Russian deep-cover espionage in the United States takes hard work.>response to Le Carre’s comments.

News you may have missed #418

  • US military pays for intel widely available online. Experts say that the vast majority of the ‘intelligence’ needed by the United States is freely available on the Internet. But that has not stopped a company called Military Periscope from selling its subscription services to the US government, on things such as updates on foreign militaries, peacekeeping missions, weapons databases and terrorist organizations “via monthly CD-ROM delivery”.
  • Son of Russian spies could return to US for school. Tim Foley, the elder son of Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, the two deported US residents who were living a double life as Russian spies, may be trying to return to study in the United States, but his younger brother plans to stay in Moscow.
  • German spy chief notes cyberattack surge. Cyberattacks against German corporate and government computers have been on the rise since 2005, according to Heinz Fromm, Director of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. He said the attacks “come mainly from Asia, often from China”, and that often “state agencies are involved”.

News you may have missed #415

  • GCHQ tech arm adopts new personnel evaluation tests. The Communications Electronics Security Group is the information assurance arm of the General Communications Headquarters –Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. CESG has now adopted a new testing method of verifying the competency of its IT security professionals, because apparently there are “not enough security professionals in the public and private sectors to go around”.
  • Swapped Russian insists he was no CIA spy. Of the four jailed Russians the US received from Moscow in exchange for the 11 Russian illegals in July, only one is talking. But Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear proliferation expert, who was convicted of links with a CIA front-company, insists he was no CIA spy. However, if that is so, why was he on Washington’s swap list in the first place?
  • Militants target Yemen spy officials. Two officers in Yemen’s Political Security Organization, Colonel Ali Abdul Kareem al-Ban, and Juman Safian, have been shot dead in recent days. Al-Qaeda militants, who assumed responsibility for the attacks, warned they will be stepping up operations inside neighboring Saudi Arabia.

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Russian alleged CIA spy gives interview

Igor Sutyagin

Igor Sutyagin

Of the four Russians alleged spies that the US and the UK received from Moscow in exchange for the 11 Russian illegals in July, only one is talking to the media. The Russian government convicted Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear proliferation expert, of having links with Alternative Futures, a British consulting company alleged by Moscow to be a CIA front. This past weekend, Sutyagin, who now lives in an undisclosed London location, gave a detailed interview to Natalya Golitsyna, a London-based correspondent for US government-owned Radio Liberty’s. As in his previous statements to the press, the Russian scientist rejected he was ever a spy, claiming that “[t]he first thing in my mind […] was doing and thinking for my country”. He also rejected accusations that he provided Alternative Futures with classified information on Russian nuclear weapons policy: “there was no transfer of information”, said Sutyagin, noting that the information he shared with the British-registered company “was just an illustration of the processes that are going on in Russia tasks”. Read more of this post

Swapped spy says he is not Russian, wants to move to Peru

Mikhail Vasenkov

Mikhail Vasenkov

One of the 11 Russian spies arrested in the US in June, and later swapped with CIA assets held in Russian prisons, claims he is not Russian, speaks no Russian, and wants to move to Peru, where he lived in the 1970s. Juan Lazaro was arrested by the FBI on June 27, along with 9 other (and later one more) Russian deep-cover operatives, who had lived in the United States under false identities for up to three decades. Lazaro, who lived in Yonkers, New York, had a doctorate in Political Science, worked as an adjunct professor, and was married to Peruvian-born journalist Vicky Pelaez. But FBI investigators unmasked Lazaro’s real name, which is Mikhail Vasenkov, before deporting him and his wife, who is also accused of working for the Russian secret services, to Moscow. According to FBI records, Vasenkov assumed the Juan Lazaro identity and ‘legend’ (biographical narrative and supporting documentation for intelligence purposes) while living in Latin America in the 1970s, using the papers of the real Juan Lazaro, an Uruguayan child who died at age 3. But now Vasenkov’s American lawyer, Genesis Peduto, claims her client is not from Russia, speaks no Russian, but is in fact the real Juan Lazaro, and wishes to leave Russia for Peru. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #407

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Did fugitive spy Metsos lead to Russian spy arrests?

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

Soon after the June 27 arrests of 10 Russian non-official-cover (NOC) spies in several US cities, one name came to the attention of intelligence observers: Sergei Tretyakov. Tretyakov was a senior Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) officer who defected to the US in 2000, while second-in-command at the SVR station in Russia’s United Nations mission in New York –the same outfit that run the deep-cover operatives arrested in June by the FBI. The Bureau’s own admission that it began monitoring the operatives around 2001, has caused many to believe that Tretyakov, who died suddenly on June 13, at age 53, may have tipped off the FBI about the NOCs. But Russian investigative journalist Yulia Latynina has raised a second possibility, no less intriguing than the first. Namely that it was not Tretyakov who betrayed the deep-cover operatives to the FBI, but rather the mysterious so-called 11th spy, Christopher R. Metsos, a seasoned SVR operative who is said to have acted as a go-between and financier for all 10 Russian spies. Read more of this post

Russian ‘spy’ breaks silence, wants to leave UK for Russia

Igor Sutyagin

Igor Sutyagin

One of the four Russian alleged spies that were handed over to the West in return for 11 Russian intelligence officers arrested in the US last month, has issued a public statement for the first time since his July 9 release from prison. At the time of his release, Dr. Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear expert who headed the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, had served 11 years of a 15-year sentence, for allegedly passing state secrets to Alternative Futures, a British company alleged to be a CIA front by the Russian government. Once Washington included his name on the top-secret exchange list, Sutyagin was transferred from his prison cell in Kholmogory prison, near Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, to the Lefortovo high-security jail in Moscow. It was there that, following a meeting with this family, he was told that he would receive a Presidential pardon in exchange for his unconditional admission of guilt. Minutes after he agreed to the deal, the Russian scientist was flown to London, still in his prison uniform. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #398

  • Britain’s first spy chief ordered Rasputin’s murder. Mansfield Cumming, or ‘C’ as he became known, was the first chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). In December 1916, he sent three agents in Russia to eliminate Grigori Rasputin, an influential Orthodox Russian priest who had a positive view of Germany.
  • Russian spy network moved money to Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwean company called Southern Union is alleged to have been used by exposed Russian spy Anna Chapman in a money smuggling operation involving a syndicate linked to the Robert Mugabe regime.
  • Iran says nuclear scientist gave valuable info on CIA. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency says that Iranian nuclear scientist Dr. Shahram Amiri, who resurfaced and returned home last week from the United States, after having disappeared during a 2009 religious pilgrimage to Mecca, has provided Iran with “valuable information” on the CIA.

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News you may have missed #396 (Russian spy ring edition V)

  • 12th Russian spy network member deported from US. Alexey Karetnikov, a 23-year-old Russian citizen living in Seattle, has been deported to his home country, apparently in connection with the Russian illegals spy network uncovered by the FBI last month. A photograph of Karetnikov is available here.
  • Returned spies look to changed identities. Several of the Russian agents detained in the United States in June and handed over to Russia last week will change their identities under a witness protection program, a Russian intelligence official said last week. All but three of the agents were using false names when they were arrested by the FBI on June 27.
  • Russian spy Chapman stripped of UK citizenship. Anna Chapman, also known as Anya Kushchenko, one of the Russian spies deported from the United States, has been deprived of her British citizenship, and exclusion is expected to follow, meaning she cannot travel to the UK. She has a UK passport through a previous marriage.

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