German spy agency tapped Finnish phone lines in early 2000s

FinlandGerman intelligence, possibly with the collaboration of the United States, monitored communications lines connecting Finland with at least five countries in the early 2000s, according to leaked documents. The documents, aired this week by Yle Uutiset, the main news program of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle), is based on information contained in “leaked German intelligence documents” that were first made public in May 2015. As intelNews reported at the time, the intelligence collection was described as a secret collaboration between Germany’s BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) and America’s National Security Agency (NSA). According to Austrian politician Peter Pilz, who made the initial allegations, the BND-NSA collaboration was codenamed EIKONAL and was active from 2005 to 2008. Pilz said at the time that many European phone carriers and Internet service providers were targeted by the two agencies. Belgium and Switzerland have already launched investigations into EIKONAL.

Now new information provided by Yle seems to show that the secret BND-NSA collaboration targeted Finnish communications as well, focusing on at least six separate communications transit lines. The lines are believed to carry telephone call and possibly Internet traffic from Finnish capital Helsinki to a number of cities in France, Belgium, Hungary, Luxemburg, and China, said Yle Uutiset. Although the targeted lines are known to carry telephone and Internet traffic, it is unknown at this time whether EIKONAL targeted both kinds. But Yle said the interception lasted for most of the first part of the 2000s and involved large amounts of communications data.

The station contacted Tuomas Portaankorva, Inspector General of SUPO, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service. He told Yle that, speaking broadly, he was not surprised to be told that Finnish telecommunications lines had been monitored by foreign intelligence agencies, Western or otherwise. He went on to caution that, even though Finnish lines had been targeted, it was not possible to conclude that Finland was indeed the target of the surveillance operation. Yle also spoke to Vesa Häkkinen, spokesman for the from Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who told the station that SUPO, and not the ministry, was the proper official body to be consulted about EIKONAL. “If there is reason to suspect that these actions were directed at the Finnish state”, said Häkkinen, “we would undertake appropriate action”.

Author: Ian Allen| Date: 20 January 2016 | Permalink | News tip: Matthew Aid

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Denmark university professor faces charges of spying for Russia

Timo KivimäkiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in Denmark have charged a university professor with assisting “foreign intelligence operatives”, believed to be Russian. Professor Timo Kivimäki, a conflict resolution expert, who teaches international politics at the University of Copenhagen, is accused of “providing or attempting to provide” information to four Russian government officials on several documented instances between 2005 and 2010. The indictment claims Kivimäki, who was born in Finland, intended to give the Russians “information relating to individuals and subjects connected with intelligence activities”. The charges were filed after a lengthy investigation, launched in 2009 by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) in cooperation with Finland’s Security Intelligence Service (SUPO). The university professor spoke to leading Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and admitted that he carried out contractual “consulting work” for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, for six years. He said he was paid approximately €16,000 (US$20,000) for his services, but denied that he knowingly contacted Russian intelligence operatives in the course of his consulting duties. According to Kivimäki, the Russian officials he interacted with appeared to be “diplomats, not spies”. He also pointed to the fact that none of the Russian officials he worked with as a consultant were apprehended or expelled by Danish counterintelligence, as is customary in such cases. Despite its relatively small size, Denmark had its share of international intelligence activity during the Cold War. During that period, PET amassed detailed files on approximately 300,000 Danish citizens considered to be “leftist sympathizers”. More recently, in November of 2010, media reports from Denmark suggested that the US embassy in Copenhagen maintained a network of local former police and intelligence officers, who were conducting “illegal systematic surveillance of Danish citizens”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #691

Thomas DrakeBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►NSA whistleblower says Obama worse than Bush. Thomas Drake, the whistleblower whom the administration of US President Barack Obama tried and failed to prosecute for leaking information about waste, fraud and abuse at the National Security Agency, now works at an Apple store in Maryland. In an interview with Salon, Drake says the Obama administration is “expanding the secrecy regime far beyond what Bush ever intended”.
►►Australian spies reportedly buying computer bugs. The Australian government is buying computer security weaknesses found by hackers before they are sold on the black market, as part of its defense strategy, according to an Australian security consultant who wishes to remain anonymous. He says while the government won’t admit it, buying vulnerabilities is an obvious part of “gathering intelligence”.
►►Refugees in Finland face spying threats. Foreign governments and groups are carrying out more spying on refugees and dissidents living in Finland, according to SUPO, the country’s security intelligence service. SUPO issued a report last week contending that while the Scandinavian country isn’t seeing an increased threat of terrorist acts on its soil, it still faces several terror-related challenges. One of them is “regular” surveillance activity by foreign intelligence services operating within Finland, whose aim is spy on their home countries’ dissidents and develop links with other refugees and expatriates.

News you may have missed #497

  • Interview with Finnish ex-counterespionage officer. Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat has published a very interesting interview with Hannu Moilanen, who recently retired as a senior officer with SUPO, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service. Among other things, Moilanen says SUPO considered the CIA “the bad boys” of the Western bloc during the Cold War, because the Americans would not always disclose to SUPO the identities of CIA officers stationed in Finland, as they were supposed to.
  • European Union sent intelligence officers to Libya. But the EU’s Joint Situation Centre denies they were spies. “They were technical specialists who went to help with satellite phones and that type of thing”, said JSC Director Ilkka Salmi.
  • Talks aimed at mending rift between CIA and ISI. The CIA has agreed to reveal more about its operatives and their activities in Pakistan, and pledged expanded cooperation on drone strikes, US and Pakistani officials said. Meanwhile, however, the drone strikes on Pakistani soil appear to be continuing.

Scandinavians launch probes into US spying activities

Scandinavia

Scandinavia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Norway, Sweden and Denmark have launched official investigations into media reports that accuse US embassies in Scandinavian countries of operating illegal intelligence gathering networks. The issue first emerged last Wednesday, when a report by Norway’s TV2 channel alleged that the US embassy in Oslo maintained a network of around 20 local former police and intelligence officers, who were conducting “illegal systematic surveillance of Norwegian citizens”. According to TV2, the surveillance network was tasked with collecting visual and physical intelligence on individuals “thought to pose a threat to American interests”. The US Department of State responded to the allegations by arguing that the US embassy had “fully informed” the Norwegian authorities of the surveillance activities. But Norwegian investigations expressed fears that the intelligence collection, which dates back to 2000, may constitute a violation of Norwegian diplomatic legislation, and have launched an investigation into the affair. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0086

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Finnish UN official details recruitment attempts by Israeli spies

Raitasaari

Raitasaari

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat has published a relatively detailed account of attempts by Israeli intelligence agents to recruit United Nations (UN) personnel stationed in the Middle East and the Balkans. The source of the details is Reijo Raitasaari, a 30-year veteran of the UN and other international organizations, who was stationed for several years in the Middle East. Raitasaari admitted that he was targeted at least three times by Israeli intelligence recruiters during his career and that the Israelis often used “[s]ex and money […] as bait in such attempts”. He said that sending attractive Israeli women to parties of UN personnel was standard practice by Israeli intelligence agencies attempting to recruit UN workers. When offers for sex were accepted by married male UN workers, the Israeli spies would resort blackmail as a method to secure their cooperation. Raitasaari also detailed his relationship with Raimo Majuri, the Finnish military officer who spied on behalf of Israel and later immigrated to Israel, where he changed his name to Ram Laor. It appears that Suojelupoliisi, Finland’s security police (otherwise known as SUPO), took the Helsingin Sanomat revelations seriously. Earlier today, the agency announced plans to launch a training workshop designed for Finnish international agency personnel stationed around the world, “to help them deal with possible attempts of recruitment by foreign intelligence services”.