Insider Threat / Espionage

Insider espionage

PM’s advisor to testify

Prime Minister Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, has agreed to testify next month before a House committee investigating the extent of Chinese meddling in Canada’s electoral processes. However, the PM’s office noted March 21 that Telford, a Trudeau advisor since at least 2015, is under “serious constraints on what can be said in public about sensitive intelligence matters.” [node:read-more:link]

Scientists’ dismissal still a puzzle

Nearly four years after two Chinese scientists were fired from a federal laboratory in Winnipeg on alleged national security grounds, the RCMP investigation continues. “Investigations are often complex, multijurisdictional and resource-intensive,” an RCMP spokeswoman offered without further comment. The two scientists have since returned home. [node:read-more:link]

CSIS security faulted by PM

According to leaked Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents, influential “friendly” Canadians were warned in early 2022 by Chinese diplomats to curb interactions with federal politicians so as to avoid being caught up in CSIS investigations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the leak is “certainly a sign that security within CSIS needs to be reviewed.” [node:read-more:link]

British embassy spy jailed

A London court today sentenced a former guard at the British embassy in Berlin to 13 years in prison for putting diplomats at “maximum risk” by spying for to Russia. David Ballantyne Smith, arrested at his home near Berlin in August 2021 after an MI6 sting operation and extradited a year later, admitting spying but wanted to “teach the embassy a lesson” because he felt badly treated at work. [node:read-more:link]

Some MPs clueless about meddling

As the Canadian Security Intelligence Services continues to alert politicians about meddling by hostile states, some Members of Parliament say they have no idea how to spot finterference. “There is not clarity, quite frankly, around what MPs and their parties can do to protect themselves,” B.C. MP Rachel Blaney admitted when CSIS described the challenge to a House of Commons committee recently. “I’m concerned that there could be something happening, and I would be merrily going along my way doing my work during an election, and I’d have no idea.” [node:read-more:link]

Chinese meddling in Canada?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior aides were warned on at least two occasions that MPs should be cautious in dealings with former Ontario provincial cabinet minister Michael Chan because of alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto. [node:read-more:link]

Cold War spy released

Ana Montes, arrested in the U.S. in 2001 for spying on behalf of Cuba, has been released from prison. Now 65, she was working at the time as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and Michelle Van Cleave, then head of counter-intelligence said Montes had “compromised everything - virtually everything - that we knew about Cuba and how we operated.” It turned out that she was motivated by ideology, partly her opposition to U.S. activities in Latin America. [node:read-more:link]

Canada contaminated by U.S. politics

Eurasia Group, a New York consultancy that assesses political risk, says Canada is showing signs of the same political contagion and polarization afflicting the U.S. “The media environment in Canada and the social media environment in Canada is (sic) increasingly resembling the . . . environment in the United States,” EG President Ian Bremmer said on releasing the consultancy’s latest annual global assessment, which included a report on Canada. “It is dysfunctional. It is rife with disinformation. It is deeply polarized.” [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa man faces trial for threats

Daniel Houde, a 19-year-old Ottawa resident, is to appear in court January 18 to face charges of perpetrating a terrorist hoax, uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm to a person, and uttering a threat to burn, destroy and damage property. RCMP say he was arrested after posting threats on social media against the Department of National Defence as well as the U.S. and Chinese embassies in Ottawa. [node:read-more:link]

Foreign interference on the rise

Veteran CSIS analyst Noura Hayek says there has been an “alarming escalation” of espionage and foreign interference in Canada in the past few years. “They’re real, they’re persistent, they’re increasing,” she told a Council on Governmental Ethics Laws conference December 4. “We see it every day . . . and these activities will be targeting all level of governments.” [node:read-more:link]

Letter bombs attacks in Spain

Spanish authorities were dealing today with a series of letter-bombs, one of which injured a security officer at the Ukrainian embassy. Other targets included Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Early indications suggest that all five packages intercepted so far were sent from within Spain, the country's Deputy Interior Minister told journalists. [node:read-more:link]

No confirmation of Chinese meddling

Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault told a House of Commons committee November 22 that he received no reports about Chinese interference in the 2019 federal election. Responding to published reports that the alleged meddling included campaign funding for at least unidentified candidates, he said “there's no reason to believe that it was not a free and fair election” but the Commissioner of Canada Elections has received a Bloc Québécois complaint about the claims. [node:read-more:link]

CSIS threat responses outdated

Talking points prepared for CSIS Director David Vigneault warn that the agency has failed to keep up with national security threats because its governing legislation is outdated. Drafted for a September 21 meeting of deputy ministers, the notes said that Canada risks becoming a “weak link” in its international intelligence-sharing chain. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese spy sentenced in U.S.

A Chinese intelligence officer who was convicted a year ago by a jury in Cincinnati of running a spy ring that included a U.S. Army reservist has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the Justice Department announced today. Yanjun Xu ha been charged with conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, attempted economic espionage and attempted trade secret theft. [node:read-more:link]

Committee to tackle electoral meddling

MPs on a House of Commons procedural committee agreed November 14 to investigate reports that Chinese agents interfered in the Canadian political process. Alberta Conservative Michael Cooper requested the committee meeting to look into a “sophisticated campaign” to “subvert Canadian democracy.” Liberals on the committee agreed to the inquiry but suggested the bicameral National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians would be a better venue. [node:read-more:link]


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