UK foreign secretary warns Israel against sabotaging Iran nuke deal

William HagueBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The British foreign secretary warned Israel on Monday not to try to sabotage the interim nuclear deal with Iran “in any practical way”. William Hague, a senior cabinet member in the Tory-led British government, was speaking at the House of Commons on Monday, when he urged the world, “including Israel”, to act positively toward the accord. The latter was struck last week between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of nations that have come to be known as P5+1, representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Tehran has provisionally agreed to limit the scope of its nuclear energy program in exchange for the P5+1 group of nations taking initiative to have certain economic sanctions on Iran lifted. Although the agreement is still in its interim stage, participating nations hope to have it finalized before the end of 2014. There are fears, however, that some Middle Eastern nations, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia, might try to sabotage the deal. Last weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the interim agreement as an “historic mistake” and stressed that Tel Aviv was not involved in, and therefore not bound, by the accord. He concluded his speech at the Israeli Knesset by promising that Israel “will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability”. In his speech to members of parliament, Mr. Hague agreed that it was crucial to “try to understand” those nations that oppose the agreement. However, he urged critics to “confine their criticism to rhetoric”. He specifically named Israel, saying that the British government “would discourage anybody in the world, including Israel, from taking any steps that would undermine this agreement”. He added that Downing Street would make that message “very clear to all concerned”. The foreign secretary went on to say that London had no evidence that parties opposed to the agreement were prepared to sabotage it “in any practical way”; but he emphasized that Britain would remain “on its guard”. Read more of this post

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British government tries to block probe into ex-KGB officer’s murder

Alexander LitvinenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The family of a Russian spy, who died of poisoning after defecting to Britain, has accused the British government of trying to cover up the affair in order to avoid embarrassing Russia. Alexander Litvinenko was an employee of the Soviet KGB and one of its successor organizations, the FSB, until 2000, when he defected with his family to the United Kingdom. He soon became widely known as a vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting a former KGB/FSB colleague, Andrey Lugovoy, at a London restaurant. He died in hospital three days later. A public inquest into Litvinenko’s murder had been scheduled for May, 2013. On Tuesday, however, it was revealed that the British government had filed a written petition to limit the information disclosed in the inquest. According to The London Times, British Foreign Secretary William Hague filed a Public Interest Immunity Certificate (PIIC), which, if allowed to stand, would limit the scope of the inquest on national security grounds. It is believed that the government wishes to block information linking Litvinenko to the Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6— Britain’s primary external spy agency. Last December, Ben Emmerson, the lawyer representing Litvinenko’s widow, claimed that the late Russian spy was a “registered and paid” agent of MI6 and Spanish intelligence at the time of his death. Read more of this post

Comment: Britain denies murdered businessman was MI6 spy

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain has officially denied allegations that a British businessman, who was found dead in China last November, was an intelligence operative. Neil Heywood, a financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker, who had lived in China for over a decade, was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. Widespread speculation that Heywood may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service, eventually prompted the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to ask Britain’s Foreign Secretary to clarify whether Haywood was a spy. The Committee wanted to know whether the late businessman had ever supplied intelligence “on a formal or informal basis” to Britain’s embassy in Beijing or its consulate in the city of Chongqing. Responding yesterday to the Committee’s query, British Foreign Secretary William Hague noted that “it is long established government policy neither to confirm nor deny speculation of this sort”. However, he added, the interest in this case made it “exceptionally appropriate” for him to “confirm that Mr Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”. In response to the second part of the Committee’s question, on whether the British expat shared information with British diplomatic officials, Mr Hague said that Heywood “was only an occasional contact of the embassy, attending some meetings in connection with his business”. He added that Heywood “was not known” to the British consulate-general in Chongqing. In its report on the story, British quality broadsheet The Guardian noted that Mr Hague’s response “did not fully answer the committee’s question”. Read more of this post

UK Foreign Secretary asked if murdered businessman was MI6 spy

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain’s Foreign Secretary has been officially asked by a parliamentary committee whether Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was found murdered in China last November, was spying for British intelligence. There is no question that Heywood, a financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker, who had lived in China for over a decade, maintained contacts with intelligence insiders. In the past, he had collaborated with Hakluyt, a business intelligence firm established and staffed by former officers of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency. British government sources have denied that the murdered businessman had ever been employed by the British state. But Heywood’s background —his schooling at Harrow, his background in international relations, his contacts with senior Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks, and his language skills— have given rise to intense speculation that he may have been an asset for British intelligence. Yesterday British newspaper The Daily Mail cited “a well-placed source” in claiming that Heywood “passed information to MI6 as an agent of influence”. Speculation about Heywood’s alleged contacts with British intelligence is bound to increase following news of an official request on the subject, issued to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The request, submitted in the form of a letter (.pdf) authored by Committee Chairman Ricahrd Ottaway, urges Hague to address “speculation” about the murdered Englishman’s profession. In the letter, Ottaway asks the Foreign Secretary to clarify whether Haywood had ever supplied intelligence “on a formal or informal basis” to Britain’s embassy in Beijing or its consulate in the city of Chongqing, where Heywood was found dead last November. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #710

Jonathan PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►MI6 officer murder inquest to be held in secret. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has ordered that key evidence in the inquest into the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams is to be heard in secret. Williams, who was found dead in a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his London apartment 20 months ago, was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the British government’s signals intelligence agency, and had worked closely with the American security services.
►►GCHQ warns it is losing terrorists on the internet. Speaking of the GCHQ, the organization says that modern internet technology has left them unable to intercept calls which use new technology instead of traditional phone systems. Britain’s Daily Telegraph quotes “senior intelligence sources with detail knowledge of the problem”, who say that GCHQ technical experts have seen their access to telephone intercept information “eroded” by the use of the technologies such as Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, which route telephone calls over the world wide web.
►►Israel pressures Obama to release Jewish spy. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again called on the United States to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard after the former US Navy intelligence analyst was hospitalized this week. Pollard, an American of Jewish descent, was sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago for leaking classified documents to Israel. Many Israelis believe the sentence was too harsh and officials often demand his release. But Democratic and Republican administrations in the US have repeatedly refused Israeli appeals to release the convicted spy.

News you may have missed #630

Riad Al Assad

Riad al-Assad

►►Senior Syrian military defector in Turkey denies training troops. Colonel Riad al-Assad, who acts as head of Syria’s military defectors, has denied a news report that he crossed the border from Turkey to Syria to command troops loyal to the opposition force called the Free Syrian Army. “News reports that appeared on a number of Internet sites that I had crossed into Syria to command troops there are false. I am in Turkey at the moment, in a safe place,” he told the Turkey’s Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
►►Iran says missile base blast was not caused by Mossad. Iran has insisted that last weekend’s huge blast at the Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, 30 miles to the west of Tehran, was not carried out by Israel or the US, despite widespread reports that it was the work of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. The explosion killed 17 of the country’s elite revolutionary guards, including Major General Hassan Moqqadam, a senior commander described as the pioneer of the regime’s missile programme.
►►British official says MI6 foiled Libyan assassination plan. British intelligence foiled a plot by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s forces to assassinate Western diplomats and Libya’s revolutionary leadership, Britain’s Foreign Secretary has disclosed. In a rare speech about the secret services, William Hague said the Libyan intelligence service launched a “sustained effort” to conduct suicide and car bomb attacks against the National Transitional Council, but that “the attacks were prevented”.

News you may have missed #629

William Hague

William Hague

►►CIA urged to be more open about climate change. America’s intelligence establishment has come out with a bold new suggestion: maybe it’s time the CIA stopped treating climate change as a secret. A new report from the Defense Science Board –a US government agency– urges the CIA to step outside its traditional culture of secrecy and begin sharing the intelligence it has been gathering on climate change.
►►Three Czechs to be tried for spying in Zambia. The fate of three Czech nationals, who are awaiting trial in Zambia on suspicion of spying, remains highly uncertain. The three face 25 years in prison for having taken photographs of an old plane displayed outside a military base in Lusaka. The Czech Foreign Ministry has tried in vain to intervene on their behalf and is now sending a special envoy to the country to present the case in person.
►►First-ever speech on MI6 by a UK Foreign Secretary. In the first speech given by a British Foreign Secretary on the activities of MI6, William Hague (pictured) called today for a line to be drawn under the controversy over the involvement of its agents in the abuse of terror suspects, and argued that the spy agency thwarts terrorists and foreign agents hundreds of times a year.