Foreign players in Ottawa protest

Facebook is being pressed by members of the U.S. Congress for details on how many of the social media giant’s accounts were created by foreign entities promoting coronavirus vaccination protests in Canada. The representatives were responding to reports that Facebook had confirmed fake user profiles set up in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Romania. [node:read-more:link]

Infamous double agent dies

George Blake, the former British intelligence officer who became the Cold War’s most infamous double agent, has died in Russia at the age of 98. He handed over information which led to the betrayal of at least 40 agents in Eastern Europe. Blake was imprisoned in London in 1960 but escaped in 1966. Russian president Vladimir Putin called him an “outstanding professional of special courage and life endurance.” [node:read-more:link]

CIA spying on Americans again

Even though the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s main operational focus is abroad, two Democrat members of the Senate intelligence committee say it has conducted warrantless dometic surveillance through a newly disclosed program. They have called for declassifying details of the program which senior intelligence had denied under oath to Congress. The CIA released one declassified report last week but withheld another, citing the need to protect “sensitive tradecraft methods and operational sources.” [node:read-more:link]

Finnish diplomats hacked abroad

Finland’s intelligence chief says a “state actor” is likely behind a recent hack of the country’s diplomatic staff working abroad. The foreign ministry says victims were targetted with the Israeli-developed Pegasus software which can afford access to mobile phones’ contents and location history. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa braces for trucker convoy

City police, the RCMP and intelligence groups are gearing up to handle the arrival in Ottawa this weekend of a convoy of truckers who are protesting mandatory coronavirus vaccination. While convoy organizers are cooperating, the concern is that escalating online rhetoric could incite violence by fringe elements. [node:read-more:link]

Russian charged with espionage in Germany

German prosecutors have charged a Russian citizen with espionage, alleging he had passed information on aerospace technology, in particular the European Space Agency’s Ariane launch vehicle, to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. Prosecutors said today that the man had worked as a researcher at a Bavarian university until his arrest last summer. [node:read-more:link]

“Cyber incident” at Global Affairs

Global Affairs Canada access some “internet-based services” evidently remained unavailable today after a “cyber incident” Jan. 19. While it remains unclear whether there is a direct link, the breach was discovered on the same day the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security warned operators of critical infrastructure to be ready for a Russia-based threat. [node:read-more:link]

Russia shuts down ransomware group

Russia’s intelligence service said that information provided by the U.S. enabled it to shut down the REvil ransomware group and charged several of its members on the weekend. “The organised criminal association has ceased to exist and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralised,” the agency said. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese influence at Westminster

Britain’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency, MI5, says an alleged Chinese agent has infiltrated Parliament to interfere in U.K. politics. It said in an official alert this week that Christine Ching Kui Lee had “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs, including donations linked to China and Hong Kong. Barry Gardner, a former member of the Labour shadow cabinet member reported to have received more than £420,000 over five years, said he had always made security services aware of the funding. [node:read-more:link]

Iran accused of global hacking

U.S. Cyber Command said Jan. 12 that Iran’s intelligence apparatus has been using multiple hacking tools against computer networks “around the world.” One vehicle is a hacking group known as Muddy Water which has tried to snatch data from telecommunications companies and others across the Middle East and elsewhere. [node:read-more:link]

Danish intelligence chief in custody

It was disclosed Jan. 10 that Lars Findsen, head of Denmark's foreign intelligence agency since 2015, has been in prison for a month for allegedly leaking classified information to news media. Findsen, who has called the charges “completely insane”, was arrested in Dec. 8 at Copenhagen Airport. Four other current and former members of intelligence agencies also were arrested but have been released. [node:read-more:link]

MPs cautioned about foreign influence

Members of the House of Commons and Senate are being warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about attempts by China and other “adversarial” states to influence how they participate in parliamentary debates and decision-making. [node:read-more:link]

Noted U.S. scientist lied about China ties

Charles M. Lieber, a Harvard University professor and government-funded nanotechnology researcher, has been found guilty by a U.S. federal court of lying to the Department of Defense and other authorities about his ties to China. The jury finding is seen as a victory for the Justice Department amidst a crackdown on academic espionage. Lieber was arrested in January 2020 and evidence against him included a contract paying him $50,000 a month for work with the Wuhan Institute of Technology. [node:read-more:link]

“Not something that I enjoyed”

Anthony Rota was the first House of Commons Speaker in more than a century to publicly rebuke a veteran civil servant when he hauled Public Health Agency of Canada President Iain Stewart before the bar for refusing to provide documents pertaining to the PHAC’s secrecy-shrouded dismissal of two Chinese scientists. “That is not something I enjoyed, let’s put it that way,” he says, explaining that he was obliged to do so by parliamentary procedure. [node:read-more:link]

Opposition rejects offer of special committee

A government offer to set up a committee which would have access to documents pertaining to the firing of two scientists last January by the Public Health Agency of Canada has been rejected by the Conservatives. House leader Gerard Deltell said Dec. 8 that the proposal is “months late” and he faulted PHAC leadership for ignoring demands to produce unredacted documents. [node:read-more:link]


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