Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Austria issues international arrest warrant for alleged Russian spy

Igor Egorovich Zaytsev

The Austrian government has issued an international arrest warrant for a Russian man who allegedly recruited a retired colonel in the Austrian Federal Army to spy for Moscow. The arrest warrant was issued on Tuesday by the public prosecutor’s office in the city of Salzburg. It identifies the Russian man as Igor Egorovich Zaytsev. Austrian officials allege that the Moscow-born Zaytsev is in fact an intelligence officer for the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. Known as GRU, the organization is Russia’s primary military-intelligence agency.
In an accompanying press statement issued on Tuesday, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior said that Zaytsev had facilitated the “betrayal of state secrets” and that his actions had been “to the detriment of the Republic of Austria”. The arrest warrant accuses Zaytsev of having participated in the “intentional disclosure of a military secret”, but does not provide details. However, in a subsequent statement, Austrian police directly linked the search for Zaytsev with an espionage case that was reported in the Austrian media last year. The statement said that Zaytsev is believed to have recruited a man known as “Martin M.” to spy on Austria. This appears to refer to the arrest last November of a 70-year-old colonel in the Austrian Army, who was stationed in Salzburg. He is believed to have spied for Russia from at least 1992 until his arrest. Austrian media reported that the accused spy was believed to have given Russia information on a range of weapons systems used by the Austrian Army and Air Force, as well as the personal details of high-ranking officers in the Austrian Armed Forces.
Soon after the arrest of “Martin M.”, Austrian authorities arrested a second man, identified only as “O.”, who is also suspected on having spied for Russia. According to the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office, “O.” was an employee of the Austrian Office for Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, known as BVT. He had been investigated on suspicion of espionage for more than a year prior to his arrest. The man’s arrest took place alongside simultaneous raids at two residential addresses associated with him, according to reports. No further details have been made available since the arrest. It is not known whether Zaytsev’s is also connected with the case of “O.”.
► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis 

Spain’s second largest bank under investigation in massive espionage scandal

José Manuel Villarejo

Spain’s second largest bank has been placed under investigation in connection with a probe into an illegal network that spied on scores of politicians, business executives, journalists and judges for over 20 years. The investigation centers on José Manuel Villarejo (pictured), a 67-year-old former police chief, who remains in pre-trial custody following his arrest in November of 2017 for carrying out illegal wiretaps. State prosecutors accuse Villarejo of running an illicit information-collection enterprise that violated the privacy of hundreds of unsuspecting citizens. Villarejo’s victims were targeted by corporate competitors and individual wealthy clients. Many were eventually blackmailed by the recipients of the information that was collected by the former police chief and his network.
On Tuesday, Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, placed the country’s second-largest bank, the BBVA, under formal investigation in connection with the Villarejo case. Audiencia Nacional Judge Manuel García-Castellón took the decision to investigate the BBVA after government prosecutors argued that the bank was one of Villarejo’s main clients, as shown in documents seized from the former police chief in 2017. According to the prosecution, the bank made illicit payments to a company called Cenyt, which was owned by Villarejo. The payments lasted for over 13 years, during which Villarejo earned close to €10 million ($11.1 million) from BBVA. In return, Villarejo and his employees carried out surveillance operations on behalf of the bank. One of the operations targeted Sacyr, a large Spanish-based construction company, which had tried to purchase BBVA in 2004 and 2005. Spanish government prosecutors now accuse BBVA of bribery, disclosure of sensitive information, and corrupt business practices.
In January of 2018 five active police officers and an employee of the Agencia Tributaria, Spain’s tax revenue service, testified in court about having worked for Villarejo’s network. They disclosed information about Operation KITCHEN, an espionage effort that targeted Luis Bárcenas, a senator and party treasurer of Spain’s conservative Partido Popular. The purpose of Operation KITCHEN was to wiretap Bárcenas’ communications without acquiring a court warrant, said the witnesses. Last year Bárcenas was jailed for 33 years for his role in the so-called Gürtel case, the largest corruption scandal in modern Spanish history, which brought down the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in July of 2017. Villarejo’s trial continues.
► Author: Ian Allen 

Dramatic moment British fighter jets intercept Russian military transport plane as it passes close to Estonian air space

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets intercept a Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft that was flying close to Estonian airspace.

This is the the dramatic moment RAF jets intercept a Russian military aircraft which passed close to Estonian airspace.  
Typhoon fighter jets operating from Ämari Air Base in Estonia launched on Sunday to escort the Russian IL-76 military transport aircraft away from Estonian territory.
Dramatic pictures show the jets flying close to the larger Russian plane as they intercepted it as part of a NATO deterrent mission. 
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: 'As this latest Quick Reaction Alert demonstrates, the RAF are frequently called upon to use their world class skills and capabilities to help police and protect the skies over the Baltics.
'Our personnel deployed to Estonia and around the world are always ready to react to any scenario as we continue our commitment to our NATO allies.'
A Typhoon pilot from XI(Fighter) Squadron, attached to 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), was conducting Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty when the scramble was called. 
He said: 'We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace from the south. We identified and monitored it as it transited close to NATO airspace. 
a plane flying in the air: Dramatic pictures released by the Ministry of Defence show the RAF Typhoon flying close to the Russian plane
'This is standard protocol for aircraft that might not be communicating with Air Traffic Control or on a recognised flight plan.
'We continued to escort the transport aircraft as it transited in a north direction, away from Estonian airspace.'
The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation AZOTIZE in Estonia in support of Baltic Air Policing.
This is the 14th QRA scramble and intercept since the RAF took over enhanced Air Policing from the German Air Force on 3 May 2019 as part of Baltic Air Policing.  
a fighter jet flying through a blue sky: The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation AZOTIZE in Estonia in support of Baltic Air Policing

Monday, March 18, 2019

Turkish-born suspect, 37, on run after 'potential terror attack' in Utrecht

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht

Police are hunting a Turkish-born 37-year-old in connection with a potential terror attack in the Dutch city of Utrecht. 
A gunman who shot dead at least one person on a tram has been on the run since this morning, and police are treating the shooting as a potential terrorist attack.
Officers reported "multiple" injuries having been called to the incident in a residential neighbourhood on Monday morning.
Police said that although the investigation was still ongoing, terrorism was one possible motive. Local media reported the perpetrator escaped in a red car. 
Gunfire erupted at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said after the incident on the tram.
Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague: "Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht. A major police operation is underway to arrest the gunman."
De politie vraagt u uit te kijken naar de 37-jarige Gökman Tanis (geboren in Turkije) in verband met het incident vanmorgen aan het in Utrecht. Benader hem niet zelf maar bel direct de opsporingstiplijn 0800-6070

Counter-terror officers preparing a raid on a house in the Trumanlaan district have surrounded a building a few hundred yards from 24 Oktoberplein where the shooting took place.
All mosques in Utrecht have been evacuated and the Utrecht University and Utrecht Central train station are also on lockdown, according to NOS.
Three trauma helicopters were called to the scene and police have appealed for the public to keep the roads clear for emergency services.
A witness, Jimmy de Koster, told RTV Utrecht he saw a woman lying on the ground shouting: "I didn't do anything."
Four men rushed towards her in an attempt to drag her to safety, but a gunman opened fire again, forcing them to take cover, he said. 
It was not immediately clear if it was a lone attacker or if it was a coordinated attack involving more than one gunman. Local news outlet AD said police were looking into other reported shootings at nearby locations and whether or not they are linked. 
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Government and the country's anti-terrorism coordinator were holding a "crisis meeting" in the aftermath of the shooting.
He said the situation was "very worrying", and security was tightened at The Hague. Schools in the area have been told to keep their doors closed.
Mayor of Utrecht Jan van Zanen said: "Shortly before noon a shooting took place on a tram in Utrecht around 24 Octoberplein.  A horrible and radical incident in which victims have fallen.  My thoughts are with them and their loved ones.
"I am in close contact with the police and the public prosecutor... I can confirm that the police and the public prosecutor are currently looking for the person responsible for this incident.
"The most important thing at the moment is taking care of the wounded and investigating the circumstances of the incident. We do not exclude anything, not even a terrorist attack."
No arrests have been made.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Irish stamps found on London bombs at airports and station

London bombs

The bombs were discovered today at Heathrow Airport, London City Airport and Waterloo station. 
They were described as "A4-sized white postal bags" capable of "igniting an initially small fire when opened".
All of them were marked with a “love stamp” issued by the Republic of Ireland in 2018, showing a red heart and the words “Love” and “Eire”.
They were sent by post from Dublin, the Irish Times reports. 
The first package went off at Heathrow Airport offices at 10am this morning. 
Nobody was injured in the ensuing small fire but the building was evacuated and anti-terror experts rushed to the scene. 
Shortly after 11.30am, a similar device was found in the post room at Waterloo station with the area sealed off. 
The third package was received around midday at City Aviation House in the Royal Docks. 
Staff were evacuated and bomb squad experts took over. 
There were no casualties and Scotland Yard said officers are treating the incidents as linked.
The force said in a statement: "The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command has launched an investigation after three suspicious packages were received at buildings in London today, Tuesday, 5 March.
"The packages - all A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags - have been assessed by specialist officers to be small improvised explosive devices.
"These devices, at this early stage of the investigation, appear capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened.
"The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is treating the incidents as a linked series and is keeping an open mind regarding motives."
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan posted on Twitter: "The @metpoliceuk Counter Terrorism Command has launched an investigation after three suspicious packages were found at locations in London.
"Our thanks go to the police, security, transport staff and all involved for their swift actions to keep our city safe."

Friday, March 1, 2019

Sweden confirms arrest of second person on spying charges

The Swedish public prosecutor’s office has confirmed media reports that a second espionage-related arrest took place in Stockholm this week. The latest arrest came just 24 hours after a man was arrested in the Swedish capital on Tuesday, allegedly for spying on behalf of Russia. As intelNews reported yesterday, a man was apprehended on Tuesday while meeting with a foreign diplomat in central Stockholm. The diplomat is allegedly a member of staff at the Russian embassy in Sweden. He is believed to be a Russian intelligence officer operating under official cover. A representative of the Swedish Security Service, known as SÄPO, later said that the man who was meeting with the Russian diplomat had been recruited by Russian intelligence in 2017 or earlier, and had been in regular contact with his Russian handlers. His name has not been revealed to the media, but he is believed to be working for an unnamed technology company in Sweden.
On Thursday, the Stockholm-based newspaper Dagens Nyheter said that it had seen court papers involving the arrest of a second individual on Wednesday, reportedly in connection with espionage for a foreign power. The paper said that the arrest took place in the Swedish capital and the individual in question remained in detention. It added that Hans-Jorgen Hanstrom, of the public prosecutor’s office, had confirmed the arrest and that the main suspect had been charged with spying against Swedish interests for a foreign power. Hanstrom added that the suspect had been found to engage in espionage from April 10 until September 30, 2018. But he did not disclose the person’s name or nationality. SÄPO spokesman Karl Melin also confirmed the espionage-related arrest, but did not comment on whether it was related to Tuesday’s arrest.
Earlier in the week, officials from SÄPO’s counterespionage directorate said that Tuesday’s arrest was the result of a lengthy operation that took “a substantial period of time” and involved “intensive intelligence and investigation work”. The alleged spy was scheduled to be placed in pre-trial detention on Thursday, but his hearing was postponed for Friday. The Russian embassy in Stockholm has not commented on the reports.

Macron: France Could Ban Hate Speech Convicts From All Social Media For Life

French President Emmanuel Macron has floated the idea that those convicted for crimes of hate speech could be banned from social media networks permanently.

President Macron floated the idea at the annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIR) saying that a new bill to fight against hate speech online was being tabled for May of this year broadcaster BFMTV reports.
While the bill is being floated at a time where Jews are facing rising levels of real-life anti-Semitic attacks driving whole communities out of French cities, the proposal to stifle speech online comes as President Macron faces unprecedented levels of criticism from the anti-government Yellow Vest movement. The French state has cracked down hard on Yellow Vest activists, arresting 8,400 protestors in just a matter of months.
“The European fight must continue, but it is too slow,” Macron said and compared banning those convicted of hate speech from social media to football hooligans being banned from attending football matches.

How the government will enforce the ban remains unclear with Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi saying, “the IP address is what Twitter has on each user who publishes a message on its platform. It must, as soon as possible, send it to the justice system to quickly identify the author and then ‘we can continue’.”
“It is no longer acceptable today that platforms that have the means to help justice and the police to identify the person who has committed an offence online take several weeks, even months, before giving the information,” Mahjoubi said.
Some have reacted to the proposal with criticism including French journalist Gabriel Robin who said the proposal could lead to anti-establishment voices, such as mass migration critic Eric Zemmour being totally excluded from social media.
“Never, I repeat, ever has a liberal government taken so many repressive measures,” he said.
While Macron and other globalist politicians have pushed for ever increasing laws and regulations to combat hate speech and so-called fake news online, the new proposal would mark a significant shift to the current punishments of fines and prison sentences.