Modern Day Espionage: Is It a Serious Threat?

By Steve Rensberry
srensberry@charter.net

  (RPC) 6/29/2010 — Whether you call it spying, espionage or simply intelligence gathering, the sleuthful practices and techniques used to protect oneself, or the interests of those for whom you work, have by no means disappeared.
   It was barely five years ago when Chen Yongleen and Hao Fengjing defected from their native China, claiming that a number of countries around the globe — including the United States, Australia and China — were operating excessively large spy networks with the primary intent of stealing scientific and commercial secrets. Disruption of the Falun Gong movement was another goal of such countries, the two said.
   They particularly grabbed the headlines with their claim that Canada was home to more Chinese spies than any other county, around 1,000 they said, more even than were believed to be in the United States.
   Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa flatly denied the claim.
   Nevertheless, a CNN story of June 15, 2005, quotes former Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya with a confirmation of sorts.
   Juneau-Katsuya estimated that Canada was losing as much as $12 billion a year to industrial espionage, but questioned whether the 1,000 spies Yongleen and Fengjing said were operating in Canada were actual spies or merely paid informants.
   A story by Kate Connolly in the Sydney Morning Herald in July of 2009 cited a similar problem for Germany, which one official said was losing $87 billion a year to industrial espionage, along with 10s of thousands of jobs. Areas that were targeted: chemistry, communications, optics, machinery, auto manufacturing, armaments and renewable energy.
   The bust on June 29, 2010, of an espionage network supposedly operating on behalf of the government of Russia has cast a renewed light on the version of espionage most often glamorized on the silver screen.
   Point of fact: none of  the charges involve actual acts of espionage, but rather the failure to properly register as foreign agents. Oh yes, several of them were also former citizens of Canada. While it seems almost silly that it took so many of them to gather information that could, by-and-large, be obtained publicly, their long-term assignment, as is alleged, was to develop contacts and relationships with others who could eventually become part of the policy making apparatus in aid to the country of Russia.
   The individuals charged: Vicky Pelaez, Juan Lazaro, Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, Cynthia Murphy, Donald Howard Heathfield, Richard Murphy, Ann Chapman, Christopher R. Metsos, Mikail Semenko and Anna Chapman.
   Operatives lived in various cities around the country and were instructed to work over an extended period of time and to eventually gather information by somehow infiltrating U.S. "policy-making circles."  The arrests were the results of an FBI investigation stretching back several years, looking primarily at operatives working on behalf of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki)
   The names of government agencies in various countries considered to be engaged in espionage of one sort or another includes:
  • Argentina - Secretariat of Intelligence, National Directorate of Criminal Intelligence, National Directorate of Strategic Military Intelligence
  • Australia - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australian Secret Intelligence Service
  • Canada — Canadian Security Intelligence Service
  • Cuba — General Intelligence Directorate
  • Czech Republic — Security Information Service
  • France — General Directorate of External Security, Central Directorate of General Intelligence, Directorate of Territorial Surveillance
  • Germany —  Federal Intelligence Service
  • India — Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau
  • Iran —  Ministry of Intelligence (Iran)
  • Israel —  Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations
  • Italy —  Democratic Intelligence and Security Service, Military Intelligence and Security Service
  • Mexico — National Security and Investigation Center
  • Netherlands — General Intelligence and Security Service
  • New Zealand — New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
  • Pakistan — Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
  • Russia —  Federal Security Service, Foreign Intelligence Service, Main Intelligence Directorate
  • South Africa —  National Intelligence Agency, South African Secret Service, South African National Defense Force Intelligence Division
  • Spain —  National Intelligence Centre
  • United Kingdom — Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service, Special Branch
  • United States —  Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014