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  • US defence contractor accused of passing on nuclear secrets

    Ex-army officer Benjamin Pierce Bishop charged with communicating national defence information to Chinese woman

    Benjamin Pierce Bishop, who works for a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, Hawaii, was arrested on Friday . Photograph: Alamy

    A US defence contractor in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of passing national military secrets, including classified information about nuclear weapons, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, authorities have said.

    Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former US army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, was arrested on Friday and made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, said the US attorney’s office for the District of Hawaii.

    He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to national defence. If convicted Bishop faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

    Bishop met the woman – a 27-year-old Chinese national referred to as Person 1 – in Hawaii during a conference on international military defence issues, according to the affidavit.

    He had allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship since June 2011 with the woman, who was living in the US on a visa and had no security clearance.

    From May 2011 until December 2012 he allegedly passed national defence secrets to her including classified information about nuclear weapons and the planned deployment of US strategic nuclear systems.

    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 March 2013 07.13 GMT

    Find this story at 19 March 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Selling secrets to the mainland: Military espionage in Taiwan (part 1 and 2)

    Cross-Taiwan Strait relations between China and Taiwan have thawed in recent years. China, who until the late 1970s was firing artillery shells toward the island nation, has supposedly taken a softer approach to what it considers a renegade or breakaway Chinese province.

    Added to this uptick in recent bilateral relations is current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou administration’s pro-China stance. However, beneath the surface the Sino-Taiwanese dynamic is more complicated than ever. Beijing, who still has not renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, is malevolent. The Middle Kingdom has stepped up its espionage efforts in Taiwan, to such an extent that Taiwan’s military defensive capabilities have been compromised and Taiwan’s relations with the US, the supplier of these defense systems, has been damaged.

    Just in the last year, events have unfolded, rocking this island nation of nearly 24 million and throwing its military back on its heels. In March 2012, a Taiwanese captain who worked at a regional operations center north of Taipei was detained on suspicion that he gave intelligence to China. He had assistance from an uncle that ran a business on the mainland. Taiwan’s early-warning radar systems were compromised, the country’s air-defence command and control systems and also surveillance aircraft.

    On January 4, a retired Taiwanese naval officer, Chian Ching-kuo was indicted for spying for China. Chian had served as chief of the missile section on a naval warship before retiring in 2009. He was accused of passing secret intelligence to China about Taiwan’s 2011 plan to send warships to Somalia to protect Taiwanese fishing boats from pirate attacks. However, the Taiwanese plan was aborted due to political concerns.

    On February 5, according to the Taipei Times, Taiwan’s High Court sentenced retired air force Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Hsiao-feng to 12 life sentences for passing classified military information to China over a period of six years. And, last October, Chang Chih-hsin, a former chief officer in charge of the political warfare division at the Naval Meteorological and Oceanography (METOC) office, and two other Taiwanese military officers were arrested on suspicion of espionage. Chang reportedly leaked classified submarine nautical charts and information about waters around Taiwan.

    The Chang case could turn out to be one of the biggest spy busts in Taiwan since 2011 when Taiwanese Army Major General Lo Hsien-Che was lured into spying for China during his time in Taiwan’s representative office in Thailand. The general was caught in what Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) called a “honey trap.” In other words, Lo gave up secrets for cash and sex.

    Methods and modes

    In an interview with me Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, coordinator of the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King College in the US said that Lo got involved with a young Chinese woman that had an Australian passport.

    Fitsanakis who teaches classes on espionage, intelligence, international terrorism, and covert actions, said this was a textbook example of China using real-life spies and sexual entrapment (one of the top methods used by Chinese spies) to gather intelligence.

    Lo was sentenced to life in prison and bas been incarcerated since July 2011, however the Chang case is still playing out.

    The Chang case intensifies

    On February 4, news broke that a Taiwanese rear-admiral was questioned by military prosecutors in connection with an investigation into alleged leaks in the Chang investigation. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) did not disclose the admiral’s identity, however he is still on active duty and until this month served as commander of a fleet. Local media reports quoting military officials claim that the navy has reassigned another officer to take the rear admiral’s position.

    Added to the fray is news that broke on February 15 that a Taiwanese army officer had been transferred after one of his relatives was also allegedly involved in the Chang case. This time it was Army Major Gen. Wu Chin-Chun, who originally headed the MND’s legislative liaison office and was an aide to Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu.

    All of this brings up some poignant questions. What would motivate a career military officer to betray his country? How much damage has been caused by these recent security breaches? Since the US supplies much of Taiwanese military technology according to Fitsanakis, what fall out has these events had on US-Taiwanese relations? How does China’s spy network operate, why have they intensified its spy ring in Taiwan and what is Taiwan fighting back?

    Selling Secrets to the Mainland: Military Espionage in Taiwan (part 2)

    The question of why so many Taiwanese military officers would betray their country is a complicated one, as complicated as the six-decade plus relationship between China and Taiwan itself.

    Professor Fitsanakis told me that as relations between China and Taiwan warmed in the last 10-15 years, more interaction has taken place. As this plays out, he said, it’s easier for China to find disgruntled employees to influence. In addition, China now has vast amounts of foreign currency at its disposal and finds it increasingly easy to use bribery.

    A long-time Chinese watcher based in Taiwan, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me that it was partly Taiwan’s fault.

    “They [Taiwan] takes a military officer and basically sticks him in a concrete room or office with low pay and expects him to serve like that for years. It breads discontent, even anger,” he said.

    He added that the spying problem in Taiwan is worse than what the media reports and that there are taxi-drivers, teachers and people across all stratum of society that are either gathering information for China or are open to the idea.

    If so, it’s a chilling disclosure. The extent of the fall-out from these security breaches in Taiwan’s military apparatus depends on who you ask. Not surprisingly, the Taiwanese military negates the extent of the damage.

    However, others disagree. Commenting on the General Lo case, J. Michael Cole, a former intelligence officer at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and deputy news editor at the Taipei Times wrote in October that it was hard to contain the damage, “especially as doubts remained over how much access he [Lo] had to the nation’s Command, Control, Communications, Computer Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, which Taiwan has been modernizing with US assistance for well over a decade.”

    Fitsanakis said that recent military secret leaks in Taiwan, while significant in the short term, are not catastrophic.

    “The major casualty of this is the relationship of trust between Taiwan and the US,” he said. “Many in Washington are increasingly hesitant to supply Taiwan with sensitive military technology because they fear penetration by the Chinese.”

    Fitsanakis added that while nobody in the State Department would admit it publicaly, it’s subverting US-Taiwanese relations. Yet, to understand the problem that Taiwan is facing, more background information is needed on how China’s spy network began and how it operates. China’s main intelligence gathering agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), is the world’s most secret agency according to experts and engages in military intelligence and counterintelligence operations.

    According to GlobalSecurity.org, the organizational structure of the MSS reflects the structure of the Russian KGB.

    “In terms of personnel, the MSS favors non-professional intelligence agents such as travelers, businessmen, and academics with a special emphasis on the overseas Chinese students and high-tech Chinese professionals working abroad with access to sensitive technological material,” GlobalSecurity states.

    Fitsanakis said that the MSS is not as technologically advanced as other intelligence gathering agencies but makes up for it in sheer size. For example, he said that reports indicated that the MSS has around 40,000 agents operating in Germany alone.

    As a comparison, though the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) states that neither the number of its employees nor the size of the agency’s budget can be publicly disclosed, the CIA has around 60,000 agents in its ranks according to some analysts.

    Going after Mei Guo

    All of this beckons the question, if Sino-Taiwanese relations are improving, then why the increase in Chinese spying activity? The answer is simple: America (Mei Guo).

    “China has been increasingly aggressive since the early 1990s in recruiting Taiwanese to spy,” Fitsanakis said. “Notably the need to spy on US military systems (early warning systems, missile systems) which are easier to access in Taiwan than in the US.” According to Fitsanakis both have been compromised in recent years.

    He added that this would not change in the foreseeable future because weapons systems are the most coveted intel of any country. Beijing has also intensified its spying activities in recent years to confront what is sees as US encirclement in the Asia Pacific region as well as a safeguard to secure energy routes through the East China and South China Seas.

    By Tim Daiss

    Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Find this story at 27 February 2013
    And at 28 February 2013


    Analysis: The Current State of the China-Taiwan Spy War

    Last week I spoke about the current state of the espionage war between China and Taiwan with Tim Daiss, a Southeast Asia-based American journalist who has been covering the Asia-Pacific region for over a decade. Our discussion formed the basis of a comprehensive piece on the subject, published in British newspaper The Independent, in two parts (part one and part two). It told Daiss that the Ministry of State Security —China’s primary national intelligence agency— is not known for its technological prowess. However, the sheer size of Beijing’s intelligence apparatus is proving a good match for the more advanced automated systems used by its less populous regional rivals, including Taiwan. When it comes to traditional human intelligence, the Chinese have been known to employ time-tested methods such as sexual entrapment or blackmail, as was confirmed most recently in the case of Taiwanese Major-General Lo Hsien-che. Lo, who headed the Taiwanese military’s Office of Communications and Information, was convicted of sharing classified top-secret information with a female Chinese operative in her early 30s, who held an Australian passport. During his trial, which marked the culmination of Taiwan’s biggest spy scandal in over half a century, Lo admitted that the Chinese female spy “cajoled him with sex and money”. In addition to honey-trap techniques, Chinese spies collect intelligence by way of bribery, as do many of their foreign colleagues. In the case of China, however, a notable change in recent years has been the accumulation of unprecedented amounts of foreign currency, which make it easier for Chinese intelligence operatives to entice foreign assets, such as disgruntled or near-bankrupt state employees, to sell classified data.

    In the case of Taiwan, China’s primary intelligence targets are weapons systems, especially those originating in the United States. The island-nation possesses export-versions of some of America’s most advanced weaponry, and it is far easier for Beijing to access such weapons in Taiwan than on US soil. Taiwan is both geographically and culturally familiar to Chinese intelligence operatives, who do not have to try too hard to blend into Taiwanese society. I told The Independent that, based on publicly available information about recent espionage cases, it would be safe to assume that Chinese intelligence has gained access to substantial classified information on some of Taiwan’s most advanced US-made defense systems. These include the Lockheed Martin/Raytheon-built Patriot missile defense system deployed on the island, as well as the Po Shen command and control system, which is designed to facilitate critical battlefield communications between Taiwan’s navy, army and air force.

    I argue in the interview with the London-based paper that China’s success in penetrating Taiwan’s defense systems is having a significant impact on bilateral relations between Washington and Taipei. On the one hand, the United States is committed on preserving its alliance with Taiwan, for both geostrategic and symbolic purposes. But, on the other hand, American defense planners are weary of the damage caused to US military strategy by the exposure of some of Washington’s most coveted weapons systems to Chinese intelligence by way of Taiwan. As I told Daiss, while nobody at the US Pentagon or State Department would admit it publicly, “many in Washington are increasingly hesitant to supply Taiwan with sensitive military technology because they fear penetration by the Chinese”.

    March 1, 2013 by Joseph Fitsanakis

    Find this story at 1 March 2013

    Japan and China step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands

    Both countries claim drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn of future skirmishes in region’s airspace

    The row between China and Japan over the disputed islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – has escalated recently. Photograph: AP

    Drones have taken centre stage in an escalating arms race between China and Japan as they struggle to assert their dominance over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

    China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the US. Both sides claim the drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn the possibility of future drone skirmishes in the region’s airspace is “very high”.

    Tensions over the islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – have ratcheted up in past weeks. Chinese surveillance planes flew near the islands four times in the second half of December, according to Chinese state media, but were chased away each time by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. Neither side has shown any signs of backing down.

    Japan’s new conservative administration of Shinzo Abe has placed a priority on countering the perceived Chinese threat to the Senkakus since it won a landslide victory in last month’s general election. Soon after becoming prime minister, Abe ordered a review of Japan’s 2011-16 mid-term defence programme, apparently to speed up the acquisition of between one and three US drones.

    Under Abe, a nationalist who wants a bigger international role for the armed forces, Japan is expected to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years in 2013. The extra cash will be used to increase the number of military personnel and upgrade equipment. The country’s deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday to discuss recent “incursions” of Chinese ships into the disputed territory.

    China appears unbowed. “Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” top-level marine surveillance official Sun Shuxian said in an interview posted to the State Oceanic Administration’s website, according to Reuters. “This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance.”

    China announced late last month that the People’s Liberation Army was preparing to test-fly a domestically developed drone, which analysts say is likely a clone of the US’s carrier-based X-47B. “Key attack technologies will be tested,” reported the state-owned China Daily, without disclosing further details.

    Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said China might be attempting to develop drones that can perform reconnaissance missions as far away as Guam, where the US is building a military presence as part of its “Asia Pivot” strategy.

    China unveiled eight new models in November at an annual air show on the southern coastal city Zhuhai, photographs of which appeared prominently in the state-owned press. Yet the images may better indicate China’s ambitions than its abilities, according to Chang: “We’ve seen these planes on the ground only — if they work or not, that’s difficult to explain.”

    Japanese media reports said the defence ministry hopes to introduce Global Hawk unmanned aircraft near the disputed islands by 2015 at the earliest in an attempt to counter Beijing’s increasingly assertive naval activity in the area.

    Chinese surveillance vessels have made repeated intrusions into Japanese waters since the government in Tokyo in effect nationalised the Senkakus in the summer, sparking riots in Chinese cities and damaging trade ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.

    The need for Japan to improve its surveillance capability was underlined late last year when Japanese radar failed to pick up a low-flying Chinese aircraft as it flew over the islands.

    The Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed defence ministry official as saying the drones would be used “to counter China’s growing assertiveness at sea, especially when it comes to the Senkaku islands”.

    China’s defence budget has exploded over the past decade, from about £12.4bn in 2002 to almost £75bn in 2011, and its military spending could surpass the US’s by 2035. The country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Soviet model called the Liaoning, completed its first sea trials in August.

    A 2012 report by the Pentagon acknowledged long-standing rumours that China was developing a new generation of stealth drones, called Anjian, or Dark Sword, whose capabilities could surpass those of the US’s fleet.

    China’s state media reported in October that the country would build 11 drone bases along the coastline by 2015. “Over disputed islands, such as the Diaoyu Islands, we do not lag behind in terms of the number of patrol vessels or the frequency of patrolling,” said Senior Colonel Du Wenlong, according to China Radio International. “The problem lies in our surveillance capabilities.”

    Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing and Justin McCurry in Tokyo
    The Guardian, Wednesday 9 January 2013

    Find this story at 9 January 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Into Africa: Ex-navy SEAL sets trail for investors: Erik Prince of Blackwater fame has set up a company that will be the ‘search radar’ to help firms manage the risks of investing there

    Investors going to Africa face political risk in some countries and the very bad transportation and infrastructure, says Erik Prince. Photo: SCMP

    The man who built up Blackwater – the giant private security force that guarded US diplomats in some of the world’s most dangerous places, including Afghanistan and Iraq – sees Africa as his future.

    After Erik Prince sold his firm to investors about two years ago, the former officer in the Navy SEALs – the special US military force that killed Osama bin Laden last year – set up a new company called Frontier Resource Group (FRG) early this year.

    FRG is an Africa-dedicated investment firm partnered with major Chinese enterprises, including at least one state-owned resource giant that is keen to pour money into the resource-rich continent.

    “Africa is so far the most unexplored part of the world, and I think China has seen a lot of promise in Africa,” Prince said during a brief trip to Hong Kong last week to meet potential Chinese investors and partners. “But the problem is if you go alone, you bear the country risk on your own. You have to get support and maintenance there,” Prince, FRG’s managing partner, told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview.

    Despite the geographical distance, economic and diplomatic ties between Beijing and many African countries have rapidly strengthened in the past decade.

    Earlier this year, Beijing pledged US$20 billion in credit to African governments over the next three years.

    Most of the money is to be used to support the development of infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small businesses in Africa.

    Prince, who credits the Navy SEALs with bringing out his entrepreneurial spirit, said there were two main risks that perhaps every businessman in Africa must face.

    The first one is the political risk in some countries, and the second is the very bad transportation and infrastructure, which means a high cost of doing business there.

    “If you can’t get to market cheaply enough, that’s not interesting,” Prince said.

    Many foreign investors came to Africa purely for its natural resources, he said, but they forgot that transporting those resources was as important as exploring and producing them.

    Prince, who works and lives in Abu Dhabi, where FRG is headquartered, said investing in Africa’s infrastructure, energy facilities and commercial agriculture to meet the local people’s basic needs of work and life should mean as much as investing directly in natural resources.

    In July, FRG made the first closing of its first Africa-dedicated private equity fund, having raised US$100 million in a few months.

    Prince committed some money himself to the fund to demonstrate a strong, long-term commitment to investing in the continent.

    Following the first closing, Prince was invited by sovereign wealth funds, rich families and big banks in Asia, including some from Hong Kong and the mainland, to advise them on investment opportunities in Africa. Some wanted to put money into FRG’s first fund.

    Now the firm aimed to raise an additional US$400 million by the first quarter of next year to close the capital-raising period of the fund, Prince said.

    He said he was “selective” about his investors, as he only wanted to bring in those who could add value to FRG and its projects in Africa.

    In 1997, Prince set up Blackwater, initially with his own money. That company received more than US$2 billion in contracts from US government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.

    When asked how he turned Blackwater into a business success, Prince said Blackwater was a part of his history and Africa meant the future for him.

    However, he said his experience in the SEALs and Blackwater developed his operational expertise for doing business in Africa.

    “People come to Africa to help [Africans] to build up the capabilities there and to show them both know-how and capital,” he said. “Our job is to put all these things together and make them good investment opportunities.”

    Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am

    George Chen

    Find this story at 19 November 2012

    Copyright © 2012 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Briton Killed in China Had Spy Links

    BEIJING—Cruising around Beijing in a silver Jaguar with “007” in the license plate, Neil Heywood seemed to relish the air of intrigue that surrounded him.

    In meetings, the British consultant hinted about his connections to Bo Xilai—the onetime Communist Party highflier—but often he would refuse to hand over a business card. He spoke Mandarin, smoked heavily and worked part time for a dealer of Aston Martin cars, the British brand driven by James Bond. Some thought him a fantasist, others a fraud.

    But his contrived aura of mystery appears to have been a double bluff: He had been knowingly providing information about the Bo family to Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, for more than a year when he was murdered in China last November, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal has found.

    The revelation is a new twist in the saga of Mr. Bo, whose wife was convicted in August of poisoning Mr. Heywood in his hotel room in the southwestern city of Chongqing, where Mr. Bo was then party chief. The downfall of one of the party’s most powerful families threw into turmoil China’s plans for a once-a-decade leadership transition, due to start at the 18th Party Congress opening Thursday, and raised questions about corruption, abuse of power and bitter personal rivalries within China’s political elite.

    The Journal investigation, based on interviews with current and former British officials and close friends of the murdered Briton, found that a person Mr. Heywood met in 2009 later acknowledged being an MI6 officer to him. Mr. Heywood subsequently met that person regularly in China and continued to provide information on Mr. Bo’s private affairs.

    China regards the private lives of its leaders as state secrets, and information about them and their families is prized by foreign governments trying to understand the inner workings of an opaque political system.
    China’s Leadership Change

    See an interactive guide to China’s 18th Communist Party Congress, read more about the outgoing leaders and some candidates for promotion.

    View Interactive

    The Chongqing Drama

    See key dates in the death of Neil Heywood in Chongqing and the drama surrounding Bo Xilai.

    View Interactive

    Players in China’s Leadership Purge

    Read more about the players in the case.

    View Interactive

    More photos and interactive graphics

    British authorities have sought to quell speculation that Mr. Heywood was a spy ever since the Journal reported in March that he had been working occasionally in China for a London-based business-intelligence company founded by a former MI6 officer and staffed by many former spies.

    William Hague, the British foreign secretary who oversees MI6, broke with standard policy of not commenting on intelligence matters and issued a statement in April saying Mr. Heywood, who was 41 when he died, was “not an employee of the British government in any capacity.”

    That was technically true, according to people familiar with the matter. They said Mr. Heywood wasn’t an MI6 officer, wasn’t paid and was “never in receipt of tasking”—meaning he never was given a specific mission to carry out or asked to seek a particular piece of information.
    The Fall of Bo Xilai

    Earlier coverage from The Wall Street Journal:
    Crash Puts New Focus on China Leaders
    Amid China Scandal, Spy Game Unraveled
    In Elite China Circle, Briton Feared for His Life
    U.K. Seeks Probe Into China Death
    China in Transition: Full Coverage

    But he was a willful and knowing informant, and his MI6 contact once described him as “useful” to a former colleague. “A little goes a long way,” the former colleague recalls the contact saying in relation to intelligence reports based on Mr. Heywood’s information.

    Mr. Heywood’s intelligence links cast new light on the response to his death from British authorities, who initially accepted the local police’s conclusion that he died from “excessive alcohol consumption” and didn’t try to prevent his body from being quickly cremated without an autopsy. The British government didn’t ask China for an investigation until Feb. 15—a week after a former Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate in China and told U.S. diplomats that Mr. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered the Briton.

    There could be implications, too, for Chinese authorities, who would be guilty of a major security breach if they were unaware that MI6 had a source inside the inner family circle of a member of the Politburo—the party’s top 25 leaders—according to people familiar with the matter. If China’s security services were aware of Mr. Heywood’s contacts with MI6, they likely had him under surveillance during his final visit to Chongqing, those people said.

    Until the scandal broke, Mr. Bo was a front-runner for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee—the party’s top decision-making body—in this year’s leadership change.

    Mr. Bo, sacked from the Politburo in April, is now facing criminal charges after Chinese authorities accused him in September of a series of offenses, including bribe-taking and interference in the murder investigation into his wife.

    Neither Chinese nor British officials have suggested Mr. Heywood was killed because of his MI6 links. A Chinese court found Ms. Gu guilty in August of killing him because she thought he threatened her son over a business dispute, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

    Enlarge Image

    Zuma Press

    Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, on trial in August for Mr. Heywood’s murder.

    However, friends of Mr. Heywood and prominent Chinese figures have pointed out omissions, ambiguities and inconsistencies in the official account of his killing presented by state media.

    And when Mr. Wang fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he told U.S. diplomats there that Ms. Gu had confessed to him that she “killed a spy,” according to one person who has seen a transcript of what Mr. Wang said.

    A spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office declined to comment on what was said in the U.S. consulate, and, when asked about Mr. Heywood’s relationship with MI6, referred back to Mr. Hague’s statement in April.

    Asked whether Mr. Heywood had been knowingly passing information to an MI6 officer, without being a government employee, the spokesman said: “We do not comment on intelligence matters or allegations of intelligence matters.” Mr. Heywood’s MI6 contact declined to comment.

    Former intelligence officials say most informants and agents in the field aren’t considered employees because they rarely have a contract and aren’t necessarily paid, but people are usually registered as “knowing” sources and assigned a code name if they are providing information to someone who has acknowledged being an MI6 officer.

    Mr. Heywood’s Chinese wife, Lulu, declined to comment. His mother and sister didn’t respond to requests for comment through an intermediary. China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Mr. Heywood was a potentially risky choice as an informant, not least because of the 007 license plate on his Jaguar. He was, on the other hand, an old-fashioned patriot with a taste for adventure. He was in the rare position of having regular contact with the family of a Politburo member as well as intimate knowledge of their private affairs, according to several of his closest friends. Ms. Gu was godmother to his daughter, Olivia, according to one close friend.

    He got to know the family in the 1990s while living in the northeastern city of Dalian, where Mr. Bo was mayor at the time, according to several of his friends, and had become part of an “inner circle” of friends and advisers.

    Mr. Heywood kept a low profile in the expatriate community, according to people who knew him, using his connections in China to build a modest freelance consultancy business advising companies and individuals on how to navigate Chinese politics and bureaucracy.

    He had dealings with several British companies and politicians, including at least two members of Britain’s House of Lords—the upper house of Parliament. One of those peers met Mr. Heywood several times in the company of his MI6 contact, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In the last two years of his life, Mr. Heywood’s relationship with the Bo family deteriorated, especially after Ms. Gu became convinced she had been betrayed by a member of her “inner circle” and demanded that Mr. Heywood divorce his wife and swear an oath of allegiance to Ms. Gu, according to friends of Mr. Heywood.

    Mr. Heywood informed his contact of this, according to people familiar with the matter. The contact warned him at one point that he should be careful not to become “a headline,” but continued meeting him and filing confidential reports on those meetings, according to those people.

    Mr. Heywood hadn’t seen Mr. Bo for more than a year when he died and had been making plans to leave China, but he appeared to be trying to persuade the Bo family to pay him money he felt he was owed, according to close friends. They said he seemed stressed and increasingly concerned that his emails and phone calls were being monitored. He also had put on weight and begun to smoke more heavily.

    “He definitely felt that he should have got more out of the relationship” with the Bo family, said one close friend. “That may explain why he agreed to go to Chongqing that last time. I think he was still hoping to get what he thought he was owed.”

    Mr. Heywood flew to Chongqing on Nov. 13 after being summoned at short notice to a meeting with the Bo family, according to Xinhua. He believed he was “in trouble,” according to one friend he contacted that day.

    He was murdered that night in his hotel room. According to an official account of Ms. Gu’s trial from Xinhua, she poured potassium cyanide in his mouth after he vomited from drunkenness and asked for a drink of water.

    The Foreign Office said that no British officials, including MI6 officers, were in contact with him in the 48 hours before his death, but declined to comment on when and how it became aware of his relationship with the Bo family and that he had been summoned to Chongqing to meet them.

    Mr. Heywood’s body was found on Nov. 15, and the British consulate was informed by local authorities the next day, according to a statement by Mr. Hague to Parliament.

    Enlarge Image


    Mr. Heywood’s body was found last Nov. 15 at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, and Ms. Gu was subsequently convicted of fatally poisoning him.

    Chongqing authorities initially told Mr. Heywood’s wife, who had traveled to Chongqing, that he had died of a heart attack, while informing the consulate that he died of “excessive alcohol consumption,” according to British officials. They said the body was cremated on Nov. 18 without an autopsy, but with the permission of Mr. Heywood’s wife.

    British consular officials formally expressed to their superiors their concern and suspicion about how Chinese authorities handled Mr. Heywood’s death, but other British officials believed that asking for an investigation would be problematic, according to people with knowledge of the events.

    The British officials who initially handled Mr. Heywood’s death are unlikely to have known about his MI6 links or his connection to the Bo family, these people said, but intelligence officials in Beijing and London would have been aware at the time of his death, or made aware soon after.

    Britain’s Foreign Office says it had no reason to suspect foul play until members of the British community began raising suspicions on Jan. 18. But the Foreign Office didn’t raise the matter with Chinese authorities until almost a month later—after Mr. Wang’s flight to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.

    U.S. officials informed British authorities about Mr. Wang’s allegations while he was still in the consulate on Feb. 7, according to the Foreign Office. It also told the Journal that a British diplomat was sent to Chengdu to try to meet Mr. Wang, but arrived after he had left the consulate.

    Mr. Hague has said that the British Embassy first asked the Chinese central government to investigate Mr. Heywood’s death on Feb. 15. But British authorities didn’t make that public until more than a month later—a delay that confused some U.S. officials following the matter.

    Enlarge Image

    Getty Images

    Two British diplomats outside the Hefei Intermediate People’s Court in Anhui, China, where Gu Kailai was tried for Mr. Heywood’s murder.

    “We couldn’t understand what the British were waiting for,” said one U.S. official who was unaware of any links between Mr. Heywood and MI6.

    Write to Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com

    Updated November 6, 2012, 4:47 a.m. ET

    Find this story at 6 November 2011

    Copyright ©2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    Murdered British businessman ‘was MI6 operative’ (we told you so)

    An investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November, was an active informant for British intelligence at the time of his death. The news appears to confirm intelNews’ assessment of April 2012 that Heywood was in fact connected with British intelligence. A highly successful financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker who had lived in China for over a decade, Heywood was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. His death led to the dramatic downfall of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, a husband-and-wife team of political celebrities who were found guilty in a Chinese court of killing the British businessman. Immediately after Heywood’s death, there was widespread speculation that he may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service. On April 27, 2012, I argued that I was not aware of anyone “with serious knowledge of intelligence issues who was not completely certain, or did not deeply suspect, that Heywood had indeed collaborated with British intelligence at some stage during the past decade”. I wrote this in the face of an official denial by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who had said earlier in the week that “Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”. Now an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that the dead British businessman had been an MI6 operative “for more than a year” prior to his death. The paper said it concluded that based on several interviews with unnamed “current and former British officials” as well as with close friends of the murdered man. One source told The Journal that Heywood had been willingly and consciously recruited by an MI6 officer, who met with him on a regular basis in China. Heywood allegedly provided the MI6 officer with inside information on Xilai and other senior Chinese government officials. The article quotes an unnamed British official as saying that Heywood’s MI6 handler once described him as “useful” to a former colleague. According to the paper, Heywood’s MI6 work does not technically contradict the British Foreign secretary’s statement that the late businessman had not been “an employee of the British government”.

    November 7, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis 8 Comments

    By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

    Find this story at 7 November 2012

    Taiwan unnerved by arrests over alleged spying for China

    Taiwan has arrested three retired military officers on suspicion of spying for China, allegations that have unsettled lawmakers fearful that state secrets could be leaked to Beijing.

    The accused include the former chief of political warfare at the Taiwanese naval meteorology and oceanography office, according a Ministry of National Defense statement sent Monday to local media. The ministry said Chang Chih-hsin had initiated contacts with Chinese officials during his service and was suspected of luring fellow officers and “making illegal gains.”

    The office is seen as especially sensitive because it holds information about Taiwanese submarines and hidden ambush zones. “This has gravely endangered Taiwan’s security,” ruling party lawmaker Lin Yu-fang was quoted by the Taipei Times. “It’s a shame for the military.”

    As the news spread, the ministry downplayed the risks, saying that no “confidential information” had been leaked to Beijing. The Chinese office for Taiwan affairs told the Global Times, a paper linked to the Communist Party, that it knew nothing about the alleged spying.
    That failed to reassure politicians in Taiwan, which has sought to ease tensions and strengthen economic ties with a country that still sees it as a breakaway territory. Trade, investment and tourism have been liberalized between Taipei and Beijing, boosting the Taiwanese economy.

    On the surface, relations between Taiwan and China seem peaceful, said Kwei-Bo Huang, director of the Center for Foreign Policy Studies at National Chengchi University. “But deep down, the intelligence warfare hasn’t stopped,” he said. Last summer, an army general was jailed for life for selling secrets to China, the most striking case of espionage yet. Opposition politicians argued episodes of alleged spying show that Taiwan has veered too far in embracing China under President Ma Ying-jeou.

    The president has slipped in popularity since he first won election four years ago, when his opponents were hobbled by a corruption scandal, forcing him to defend his increased openness toward China.

    “These kinds of activities undermine the confidence of the Taiwanese public towards any friendly gesture at all,” said Dean P. Chen, assistant professor of political science at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “It could easily undermine his China policy.”

    The phenomenon of retired military officials heading to China has caused particular concern in Taiwan that secrets could be spilled. Without institutional channels to communicate about military issues, Chen said, officers have ended up chatting informally instead.

    “In the absence of an institutionalized arrangement, they lack ideas of what is right to say and what is not right to say. Nobody really knows where to apply a brake,” he said. Creating clearer channels for discussion, Chen added, could help quash under-the-table talk.

    October 30, 2012 | 7:37 am

    Find this story at 30 October 2012

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    Taiwan arrests suspected military spies for China

    Taiwan has arrested three retired military officers suspected of spying for China, officials say.

    One of the officers, identified by local media as Chang Chih-hsin, was the former political warfare head of the meteorology and oceanography office.

    The Defence Ministry has said that Mr Chang did not leak sensitive material.

    But local media warn his department handled highly classified data, including maps for submarines, hidden ambush zones and coastal defence areas.

    “Chang, who initiated contacts with Chinese mainland officials while still serving in the navy, was suspected of luring his former colleagues and making illegal gains,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

    The ministry had been investigating Mr Chang even before he retired in May and visited China in August, reports say.

    While a Defence Ministry spokesman has confirmed the arrest of three former military officials, other media reports say that a total of eight officers have been arrested.

    The case is raising questions about the increasing practice in recent years of Taiwan’s retired officers, including generals, visiting China, says the BBC’s Cindy Sui in Taipei.


    29 October 2012 Last updated at 09:49 GMT

    Find this story at 29 October 2012 



    BBC © 2012 The BBC is not responsible for the content

    Taiwan arrests eight military officers for spying for China

    Authorities in Taiwan have announced the arrest at least eight current and former military officers on suspicion of conducting espionage on behalf of China. The eight are accused of leaking Taiwanese military secrets to Beijing, in a case that some Taiwanese legislators described yesterday as one of the most serious instances of espionage in the island’s history. According to official statements issued yesterday, the person in charge of the alleged spy ring appears to be Lieutenant Colonel Chang Chin-hsin, who until his retirement earlier this year was charge of political warfare at the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) Office. Based outside of Taipei, METOC is in charge of producing mapping data for use by Taiwan’s naval forces, including cartographic manuals used by Taiwanese warships and submarines guarding the Taiwanese coastline. Taiwanese authorities allege that Chang “initiated contacts” with Chinese mainland officials while still serving in the Taiwanese Navy. Following his recruitment, Chang gradually enlisted several other members of the Taiwanese military by offering hefty monetary bribes in exchange for military secrets. Taipei authorities claim that they found out about Chang’s espionage activities in March of this year, and that Taiwan’s Military Prosecutors Office gathered evidence against him before he was able to seriously compromise national security. David Lo, a spokesman at Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, told journalists yesterday that, as a result of the early tip-off and related counterintelligence precautions, Chang had “limited access to sensitive information”.

    October 30, 2012 by Ian Allen

    By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |

    Find this story at 30 October 2012

    Journalisten moesten Chinezen bespioneren


    Van een onzer verslaggevers AMSTERDAM, vrijdag Personen die door de AIVD worden benaderd om als informant of agent voor de dienst te gaan werken, kunnen hiertoe niet gedwongen worden , zo benadrukt de inlichtingendienst. Net zomin kunnen zij gedwongen worden om bepaalde informatie te verstrekken. Zowel de medewerking als de informatieverstrekking aan de AIVD is dus geheel vrijwillig en betreft primair de verantwoordelijkheid van de betrokken persoon zelf.


    Uit informatie die De Telegraaf heeft ontvangen, blijkt dat de Nederlandse journalisten is gevraagd verslagen over en foto s te maken van Chinese officials die contact zochten met Nederlandse officials en vertegenwoordigers van het bedrijfsleven en de overheid, die bijeenkwamen in het Holland Heineken House.


    De AIVD wil niet ingaan op verdere vragen, bijvoorbeeld hoe de betrokken journalisten voor vertrek naar China werden geïnstrueerd en of Nederlandse journalisten vaker worden benaderd als bron voor de geheime dienst.


    Find this Story at 15 juni 2012 

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