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  • EU member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo (2022)
    Staggering data shows NATO aided Putin by supplying arms being used against Ukraine (2022)
    STAGGERING unearthed data has revealed several NATO countries – including the UK – have supplied weapons and military equipment to Russia worth hundreds of millions of pounds, some of which are likely to be used against Ukraine today.

    NATO military alliance members including the UK, France and Germany, are being accused of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by continuing to supply weapons to the Russian military up until at least 2020, despite an embargo following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. According to data unearthed from the Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), a third of the European Union’s member states have exported weapons to Russia in recent years.

    The COARM data, first analysed by Investigate Europe, reveals a staggering €346million (£290million) worth of military equipment – including aircraft, vehicles, missiles, rockets, torpedos and bombs – was exported to Russia from at least 10 EU countries between 2015 and 2020.

    lees meer

    Germany exported military equipment to Russia despite embargo: Report (2022)

    $134 million worth of military equipment shipped between 2014 and 2020, despite EU sanctions on Russia, according to local media

    Germany shipped €122 million ($134 million) worth of military equipment to Russia despite the EU arms embargo in effect since 2014, local media has reported. Nine other EU member states also exported military goods during that time, said the report.

    German arms exports to Russia between 2014 and 2020 included special protection vehicles and icebreaker vessels but also lethal weapons such as rifles, according to a report by Investigate Europe.

    lees meer

    France, Germany and Italy sold hundreds of millions of pounds worth of arms and military kit to Russia for years despite embargo (2022)

    France, Germany and Italy sold hundreds of millions worth of arms to Russia 

    They sold military kit to the Kremlin for years despite an EU embargo banning it

    They were three of at least 10 countries to use a loophole to get past the ban 

    France alone sold €152million out of a total €350million (£293million) exported

    France, Germany and Italy used a loophole in a ban of exporting arms to Russia to send the Kremlin €296million worth of military equipment that is now being used against Ukraine.

    They were just three of at least 10 EU member states to export almost €350million (£293million) in equipment that can include missiles, rockets, ships and bombs.

    lees meer

    France continued to deliver Russia weapons after 2014 embargo

    France continued to issue arms export licences to Russia after the 2014 embargo, investigative website Disclose has revealed.

    According to leaked documents, French companies delivered arms to Russia after the EU imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, against Russia in 2014. France has since issued more than 70 licences to export military equipment to companies worth €152 million.

    Contacted by EURACTIV France, the Armed Forces ministry confirmed that France “allowed “the execution of certain contracts concluded before 2014”, something the EU embargo against Russia allowed.

    lees meer

    A Third of EU Member States Exported Weapons to Russia (2022)

    A third of European Union (EU) member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo banning them, according to data from the working group, which records all military exports from the 27, analyzed by Investigate Europe.

    The data, released today in the newspaper Public, indicate that 10 EU countries exported weapons to Russia after the July 2014 embargo, which prohibits “the direct or indirect sale, supply, transfer or export of weapons and related material”. The 2014 embargo followed the annexation of Crimea and the proclamation of the breakaway republics of Donbass six months earlier.Every year, the 27 member states submit their data to the Council of the EU Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports, COARM.

    Data analyzed by the Investigate Europe consortium indicates that between 2015 and 2021 at least 10 member states exported weapons to Russia worth a total of 346 million euros.

    lees meer

    EU arms firms trying to flout Belarus and Russia ban (2021)

    Three EU-based firms are suspected of trying to smuggle arms to Belarus and Russia, in what might be the tip of a larger black market.

    Czech firm Česká zbrojovka tried to export over 100 rifles and pistols via Moldova to Russia in 2020, according to a Moldovan document seen by EUobserver.

    The shipment included ‘CZ TSR’-model sniper rifles, which can be used for sport or by special police.

    Hungarian firm De Fango and Slovak firm XXeurope also tried to export hundreds of thousands of ammunition cartridges via Moldova to Belarus at about the same time, the document indicated.

    The EU imposed arms embargoes on Belarus and Russia in 2011 and 2014.

    And a Moldovan liaison officer shared the information – a 12-page PowerPoint presentation created by Moldovan law-enforcement authorities – with an EU diplomat in Chișinău in July to raise the alarm.
    lees meer

    Up in arms: Warring over Europe’s arms export regime (2019)

    The European Union’s poorly co-ordinated arms export policy is undermining Europe’s security, its foreign policy and its defence industry.

    The EU’s arms export policy should have three aims. First, arms control, in order to keep arms out of the wrong hands. Second, targeted arms exports to allies and countries that share the EU’s security challenges. Third, supporting the development of European military technology.
    lees meer

    EU arms embargo on Russia will make little impact if France can still sell Putin warships (2014)

    The Council of the EU is currently struggling over whether to impose an arms embargo on Russia as punishment for its role in destabilising Ukraine. Several governments in the EU, including the UK, have already announced that they are denying arms export licences for Russia and revoking those that have previously been granted.

    Also in place is a Council Common Position that governs exports of military technology and equipment. This already obliges EU member states to deny arms export licences if there are concerns about the recipient’s respect for international humanitarian and human rights law or non-proliferation – or if they are involved in internal, regional or international conflict and tensions.

    Arms embargoes are a vital part of the EU’s “smart sanctions” toolbox, with 22 currently in force. They have no negative humanitarian impact and are usually deployed to restrict arms flows and change target behaviour, and send political signals. The targets of EU arms embargoes tend not to be significant importers of EU-produced arms.
    lees meer

    From guns to warships: Inside Europe’s arms trade with Russia (2014)
    The West has slapped stringent sanctions on Russia in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, believed by the U.S. and others to have been shot down with a Russia-supplied Buk missile system by eastern Ukraine rebels.
    While the introduction of financial sanctions will create the most immediate squeeze on Russia, it is the crack-down on the arms trade which has triggered debate. Future imports and exports between the EU and Russia are now banned — but existing contracts, including France’s $1.6 billion Mistral-class warships deal, are allowed to go ahead.
    lees meer
    Allegations of secret Colombian plan to undermine EU (2010)

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    A group of MEPs is calling for action as further details of an alleged covert operation conducted by the Colombian intelligence agency (DAS) continue to emerge, with one of its reported aims being to undermine the authority of the European Parliament.
    Recently released documents that were confiscated from the DAS by the Colombian Attorney General’s office highlight the nature of “Operation Europe.”

    The alleged action in Europe includes phone tapping and the interception of emails (Photo: Flickr.com)
    Its objective was to “neutralise the influence of the European judicial system, the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” reads one text seen by this website.

    Following lines suggest the process of discrediting these institutions should be carried out by waging a “legal war.”

    News of the Colombian agency’s activities targeting national and international human rights defenders, NGOs and democratic organisations, of which ‘Operation Europe’ was only one part, first broke in the Colombian media in early 2009.

    As the scandal grew, former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe finally moved to stem the criticism by introducing legislation late last year to overhaul the controversial agency, although it has yet to be approved by the country’s legislature.

    But a group of MEPs, primarily from the European Parliament’s Green group, are not satisfied, fearing that the reported campaign of close surveillance and threat-making against Bogota’s critics may simply continue under a different guise.

    Their concerns are backed up by the Colombian Commission of Jurists, among others, a group of legal activists that says the law does not “establish adequate, effective and independent oversight of intelligence activities.”

    Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek is one of those to have put questions to the European Commission and Council of Ministers, but said the answers she received were “not satisfactory.”

    In responding to the queries last month, the commission said it was “well aware of the reports relating to alleged illegal spying by the DAS” and has raised the matter with the Colombian authorities on several occasions.

    The EU executive body added that it has faith in the current investigation being carried out by the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office and has been informed of the draft law to liquidate the DAS and set up a new agency.

    Others want more, however.

    “There should be a full police and judicial investigation of the alleged crimes,” said centre-left MEP Richard Howitt. “All of us at member-state level and within the European institutions should take full responsibility for making sure such investigations are conducted.”

    Hopes for the Belgian Presidency

    Unhappy with the current level of action, Ms Lunacek says she has greater hopes for the next six months, with Spain set to hand over the reins of the EU’s rotating presidency on 1 July.

    “The Spanish government is very in favour of the free trade agreement with Colombia [initialed in May], and they don’t want anything to jeopardise that,” the Austrian deputy told EUobserver. “But then the Belgians will take over the presidency and they have citizens that have been proven to have suffered phone tapping by the DAS.”

    One of those Belgian citizens who claims to have been a victim of DAS activities is Paul-Emile Dupret, a political advisor to the European Parliament’s left-wing United European Left (GUE) group.

    “My name is mentioned on the DAS file several times,” he says, believing it to be partially the result of his involvement in the organisation of an anti-Uribe protest in 2004 when the ex-President visited the European Parliament.

    Several months after the protest, Mr Dupret was arrested upon landing in the United States. “I was interrogated when I arrived, put in prison for 24 hours, asked dozens of questions about by views on Colombia,” he says. “Since then I have been prevented from returning to the US. They now consider me a terrorist.”

    The close ties between Washington and Bogota are well known.

    The Belgian citizen is currently working with a group of other victims and a team of lawyers, and plans to present their collective case against the Colombian agency in the Belgian courts this July, the first European citizens to do so.

    Certain European NGOs also claim to have been the target of a concerted campaign to discredit their activities and tarnish their reputations. Amongst them is the Belgian faith-based NGO Broederlijk Delen, whose representative Patricia Verbauwhede attended a press conference in parliament this week.

    “The EU needs to make a statement on the DAS,” she said. “We request an investigation of the DAS on European soil and we feel the EU should not conclude its free trade agreement with Colombia.”

    So far the sought-after strong statements and investigations have not been forthcoming.

    BRUSSELS, 25. JUN 2010, 09:28
    Find this story at 25 June 2010

    Copyright https://euobserver.com/

    Uzbekistan: US and Europe turning a blind eye to torture

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    The USA, Germany, and other European Union countries’ continuing ‘blind-spot’ to endemic torture in Uzbekistan ensures that appalling abuses will continue unabated, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.
    The report, Secrets and Lies: Forced confessions under torture in Uzbekistan, reveals how rampant torture and other ill-treatment plays a “central role” in the country’s justice system and the government’s clampdown on any group perceived as a threat to national security. It warns that police and security forces frequently use torture to extract confessions, to intimidate entire families or as a threat to extract bribes.
    “It’s an open secret that anyone who falls out of favour with the authorities can be detained and tortured in Uzbekistan. No one can escape the tendrils of the state,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director, launching the report in Berlin.
    “What is shameful is that many governments, including the USA, are turning a blind eye to appalling torture, seemingly for fear of upsetting an ally in the ‘war on terror’. Other governments, like Germany, appear to be more concerned with business opportunities and not rocking the boat.”
    “Strategic Patience” a shameful strategy in the face of human rights violations
    As the 10th anniversary of the May 2005 Andizhan mass killings of hundreds of protestors approaches, Amnesty International’s report highlights how the USA and EU governments, including Germany, have put security, political, military and economic interests ahead of any meaningful action to pressure the Uzbekistani authorities to fully respect human rights and stop torture by its authorities.
    European sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan after the 2005 mass killings in Andizhan were lifted in 2008 and 2009, revoking travel bans and allowing arms sales to resume despite no one being held to account for the killings. The last time EU foreign ministers even put Uzbekistan’s human rights record on the agenda was in October 2010.
    Germany in particular has close military ties with Uzbekistan. In November 2014 it renewed a lease for an airbase in Termez to provide support to German troops in Afghanistan. On 2 March 2015, Germany and Uzbekistan agreed a €2.8 billion investment and trade package.
    The attitude of Uzbekistan’s international partners to the routine use of torture appears at best ambivalent, and at worst silent to the point of complicity. The USA describes its engagement with Uzbekistan as a policy of “strategic patience”, but it is perhaps better described as strategic indulgence. The USA, Germany, and the EU should immediately demand that Uzbekistan clean up its act and stop torture.
    John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director, Amnesty International
    In January 2012, the US government waived restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan originally imposed in 2004, due in part to the country’s human rights record. This year the military relationship between the two countries strengthened significantly with the implementation of a new five-year plan for military cooperation.
    In December 2014, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, said Washington exercised “strategic patience” in relations with Uzbekistan.
    “The attitude of Uzbekistan’s international partners to the routine use of torture appears at best ambivalent, and at worst silent to the point of complicity. The USA describes its engagement with Uzbekistan as a policy of “strategic patience”, but it is perhaps better described as strategic indulgence. The USA, Germany, and the EU should immediately demand that Uzbekistan clean up its act and stop torture,” said John Dalhuisen.
    “The international ban on torture is absolute and immediate. Yet while Germany and the USA foster closer ties with Uzbekistan, people are being snatched up by police, tortured into confessing to trumped-up charges, and subjected to unfair trials. As long as Uzbekistan uses torture-tainted evidence in court, it will remain a torture-tainted ally.”
    Torture endemic in Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system
    Amnesty International’s report is compiled from more than 60 interviews conducted between 2013-2015 and evidence gathered over 23 years. It lifts the lid on the use of sound-proof torture cells with padded walls used by the secret police, the Uzbekistani National Security Service (SNB), and documents the continued use of underground torture cells in police stations.
    The police and secret police use horrific techniques, including asphyxiation, rape, electric shocks, exposure to extreme heat and cold, and deprivation of sleep, food and water. The report also documents elaborate, prolonged beatings delivered by groups of people, including other prisoners.
    One man, who was never told the reason for his arrest, described what happened after he was taken to the basement of a police station in the early hours of the morning:
    “I was in handcuffs with my hands behind my back … There were two police officers beating me, kicking me, using batons, I lost consciousness. They beat me everywhere, on my head, kidneys… When I lost consciousness they would throw water on me to wake me up and beat me again.”
    Security forces targeting entire families
    The report documents widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment, with victims including government critics, religious groups, migrant workers and business people. The authorities sometimes also target victims’ extended families.
    Zuhra, a former detainee, told Amnesty International how security forces targeted her entire family, most of whom remain in detention today. She was regularly called to report to the local police station, where she was detained and beaten to punish her for being a member of an “extremist family” and force her to reveal the whereabouts of male relatives, or to incriminate them. She said:
    “There is no peace in our house. We wake up in the morning and if there is a car in front of our door, our hearts beat faster… There are no men left in our house. There are not even any grandchildren left.”
    Arbitrary brutality in an unaccountable justice system
    New testimony received by Amnesty International exposes the institutionalized use of torture and other ill-treatment to elicit confessions and incriminating evidence about other suspects.
    People are often tried using evidence extracted from torture. Judges extort bribes for lenient sentencing and the police and secret police use the threat of torture to demand huge bribes from detainees and prisoners.
    Turkish businessman, Vahit Güneş, was accused of economic crimes including tax evasion and connection to a banned Islamic movement, charges which he denies. He was held for 10 months in secret police detention, where he says he was tortured until he signed a false confession. He was tortured again when the secret police wanted to extort several million US dollars from his family in exchange for his release.
    The response he received when he asked for a lawyer illustrates the unfair and arbitrary nature of Uzbekistan’s justice system:
    “One of the prosecutors said: ‘Vahit Güneş pull yourself together. In the whole history of the SNB no one has been brought here and found innocent and released. Everyone who is brought here is found guilty. They have to plead guilty.’”
    Vahit Güneş described the dehumanizing conditions, psychological intimidation, beatings and sexual humiliation of detention:
    “You are not a human being anymore. They give you a number there. Your name is not valid there anymore. For instance my number was 79. I was not Vahit Güneş there anymore, I was 79. You are not a human being. You have become a number.”
    “You are not a human being anymore. They give you a number there. Your name is not valid there anymore. For instance my number was 79. I was not Vahit Güneş there anymore, I was 79. You are not a human being. You have become a number.”
    Vahit Güneş, torture survivor
    Torture continues unabated and unpunished since 1992
    Although torture is against the law in Uzbekistan, it is rarely punished. Even the government’s own figures show the scale of impunity for torture, with only 11 police officers convicted under Uzbekistani law from 2010-2013.
    During this time 336 complaints of torture were officially registered, of which just 23 cases were prosecuted and six taken to trial. To make matters worse, the authorities charged with investigating those complaints are often the same ones accused of torture, severely limiting the likelihood that victims will ever receive justice and reparations.
    Amnesty International is calling on President Islam Karimov to publically condemn the use of torture. The authorities should also establish an independent system for inspections of all detention centres and ensure that confessions and other evidence obtained by torture or other ill-treatment are never used in court.
    This report is the fourth in a series of five different country reports, after Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines, to be released as part of Amnesty International’s global Stop Torture campaign, launched by Amnesty International in May 2014. In the past five years alone, Amnesty International has reported on torture and other ill-treatment in 141 countries.
    15 April 2015, 11:00 UTC
    Find this story at 15 April 2015
    Find the report here
    Copyright Amnesty International

    US and EU Accused of Turning a Blind Eye to ‘Rampant Torture’ in Uzbekistan

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    Four men broke into Yusuf’s apartment in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in July 2009 and started beating him, before putting him in handcuffs and taking him to the local police station. Yusuf says this was not the first time he was attacked and detained, but on this occasion he was questioned by officers for three days, who took a long baton to his head and used a plastic bag to suffocate him.
    He refused to sign a confession saying that he’d plotted to overthrow Uzbekistan’s constitutional order, but was ultimately convicted in court on drug charges and slapped with a fine.
    Yusuf’s story of torture and abuse at the hands of Uzbek authorities is just one of 60 testimonies compiled in a damning report out on Wednesday from Amnesty International alleging that “rampant torture” is an integral part of the justice system in the Central Asian country.
    The organization slammed the US and European Union (EU), claiming they are turning a blind eye to “endemic torture” in Uzbekistan — pinning this ambivalence on the country’s role as an ally in the War on Terror.
    “Uzbekistani people are routinely and systematically tortured there, it’s a regime that uses torture flat out, straight up, with no nuance,” Julia Hall, Amnesty’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, who led the two year investigation, told VICE News.
    Related: The toxic Uzbek town and its museum of banned Soviet art. Read more here.
    Beatings, asphyxiation, needles inserted under finger or toenails, electric shocks, and rape are some of the torture techniques allegedly employed by President Islam Karimov’s regime that were highlighted by the human rights organization. The head of state has been in power since 1990, months before the country — which shares its southern border with Afghanistan — declared its independence from the Soviet Union.
    Authorities also reportedly use various psychological approaches, including intimidating detainees awaiting charges in detention centers with dogs. A letter given to Amnesty last year describes one inmate’s torture experience after being beaten in his kidneys, legs, and face.
    “I was in such pain, I was cold and naked, I thought I would not survive. On the third day, when I asked one of the officers to give me something to drink, he marched me from the basement [to the courtyard], tied me to a dog kennel, pointed to the dog’s feeding bowl and said: ‘If you want to eat and drink, help yourself,'” the letter reads. “He left me tied to the kennel. I stand, next to me sits a hound and every time I move it starts barking, so that I don’t dare move.”
    Uzbekistan has long been criticized for its human rights abuses, with Human Rights Watch calling the country’s record “atrocious.” Hall told VICE News that anyone who criticizes the government becomes a target. Free speech is heavily curtailed, with activists and journalists often caught in up in the mix. Muhammad Bekzhanov, the editor-in-chief of an opposition party newspaper, has been in prison since 1999, making him one of the longest-imprisoned journalists globally.
    While accusations against Karimov’s regime are nothing new, Hall said that the boost to global anti-terrorism efforts has given it a new feel. According to her, human rights abuses and the crackdown on people in Uzbekistan has been severe in the past few years, as Muslims and others have been labeled terrorists and subsequently targeted.
    Related: Reporters without borders unblocks censored news sites. Read more here.
    “It was kind of under a new frame after 9/11, governments like Uzbekistan in Central Asia, and governments all over the world could invoke national security at rogue under the veil of terrorism,” Hall added. “Other governments saw Uzbekistan as an ally in the War on Terror, and were less inclined to criticize the Uzbek government for human rights violations.”
    In the last decade, a series of countries around the world have lifted a series of sanctions against the regime. After the 2005 Andijan Massacre — during which authorities killed hundreds of protesters — the EU imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan, including bans on arms sales and travel. These measures, however, were pulled in 2008 and 2009.
    A 2004 US ban on military aid was revoked in 2012. Up until 2005 the US maintained a base near the country’s border with Afghanistan. The Tashkent regime pulled the plug in 2005, but allows the government to move goods for humanitarian purposes through Uzbekistan.
    The US State Department qualifies Uzbekistan as an authoritarian state, outlining human rights problems in a 2013 report, listing issues including torture, harassment of religious minorities, and denial of due process or a fair trial. The report also highlights violence against women, prolonged detentions, and life-threatening prison conditions.
    According to Hall, foreign governments have been cautious in their approach to Uzbekistan, in what she said is an attempt to keep the country on their side, especially as it will be a key ally as the war in Afghanistan appears to come to a close.
    At the same time, Uzbekistan has cracked down in the face of the Islamic State’s violent campaign in Iraq and Syria. While no official estimates exist for the number of Uzbek fighters in the group’s self-declared caliphate, the government — along with others in Central Asia — recently raised concerns about the threat of the group entering the country. Plus, as Hall notes, the country’s citizens have a history of traveling to foreign wars, like in the case of Bosnia and Chechnya.
    “It’s not a new phenomenon, but the rise of the Islamic State is a new threat,” she explained. “[But] we weren’t really looking at armed groups trying to establish a caliph, so you’re looking at something quite different in ISIS. The threat is real but there is no threat that can ever justify torture.”
    Moving forward, Amnesty is asking Karimov to condemn the use of torture. The rights group is also asking the US and EU member countries to bring human rights and torture into discussions with officials. Hill noted that the United Nations is also in the country.
    “We have asked them to make sure in every meeting they have with Uzbek authorities that human rights are on the table, we’re not even sure human rights are on the agenda,” She said. “They cannot go into total isolation, they are part of international community, but the reality is there is no pressure to clean up.”
    By Kayla Ruble
    April 16, 2015 | 2:05 pm
    Find this story at 16 April 2015
    Copyright https://news.vice.com/

    New information on undercover policing networks obtained by German parliamentary deputies

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    New information on the 2014 activities of European police cooperation groups and networks has been published by the German government (pdf), in response to questions from Die Linke parliamentary deputies. The answers include information on the work of Europe’s secretive undercover policing coordination networks. However, the government claims – as it has done in the past – that many of the questions cannot be answered publicly, due to the need for confidentiality.
    The questions concern a number of groups and networks, including:

    The European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG);
    The International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities (IWG);
    The Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW);
    The International Specialist Law Enforcement (ISLE) project;
    Europol’s ‘Focal Point Dolphin’.
    European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG)

    The ECG was established in 2001 and deals with: “The promotion of international cooperation by law enforcement agencies at the European level with respect to the deployment of undercover investigators to combat organised crime.” [1]

    However, the German government has previously referred to “politically motivated” crime as one of the “main issues” looked at by the group, [2] and has admitted that the work of the exposed police spy Mark Kennedy has been discussed at its meetings.

    The extent to which the ECG is involved in coordinating or directing police infilitration of protest movements across Europe is unknown, although a number of the British undercover police exposed in recent years are known to have travelled abroad frequently. German officers have also been sent abroad on a number of occasions. [3] Attempts by a number of women to obtain justice after being deceived into spending years in relationships with undercover police officers are ongoing. [4]

    According to the German government, the ECG met in Bucharest from 20 to 23 May, and the group’s third workshop on “Undercover on the Internet” was held in Marburg from 6 to 9 October.

    The list of attendees is lengthy. At the main ECG meeting, there were representatives present from 22 EU Member States:

    Austria (Federal Criminal Police Office, Vienna)
    Belgium (Federal Police)
    Bulgaria (Government Agency for National Security)
    Croatia (Criminal Police Directorate)
    Czech Republic (Czech National Police)
    Denmark (Danish National Police)
    Estonia (Central Criminal Police)
    Finland (National Bureau of Investigation)
    France (Central Directorate of Criminal Investigation Department)
    Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office, Central Office of the German Customs Investigation Service)
    Hungary (Hungarian National Police and Hungarian Customs)
    Italy (Carabinieri)
    Latvia (Criminal Police Department)
    Lithuania (Criminal Police Bureau)
    Netherlands (National Police Agency)
    Poland (Polish National Police)
    Portugal (Policia Judiciária)
    Romania (Romanian National Police)
    Slovakia (Slovakian National Police)
    Slovenia (General Police Directorate)
    Spain (Spanish National Police)
    United Kingdom (National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police)
    And six non-EU states:

    Albania (Central Criminal Police)
    Macedonia (Office of Public Security)
    Norway (Oslo Police Department)
    Russia (Federal Drugs Control Service)
    Switzerland (Federal Criminal Police)
    Turkey (National Police)
    At the October workshop the same organisations were present from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia and the UK. Also present were representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

    The content of the agendas has not been published by the German government. Its justification for the secrecy was lengthy:

    “The meetings dealt inter alia with tactical and operational measures in the context of undercover police investigations, for instance on the Internet. In addition to this, joint training measures in a particular area were discussed…

    “The said undercover measures are only used in areas of criminal activity in which a particularly high level of conspiracy, danger to the public and willingness to employ violence must be assumed.

    “…making public specific contents of discussions of certain operational resources conducted with foreign police authorities, as discussed in the meeting in question, would gravely undermine the trust and confidence of the international cooperation partners in the integrity of German police work and render significantly more difficult continued cooperation in the area of undercover policing.”

    The same justification was referred to in response to a wide number of other questions put forward by Hunko and his colleagues, and similar statements have been previously been put forward by the government in response to parliamentary questions on policing issues.

    International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities (IWG)

    The IWG was established in 1989 and its purpose has previously been described as “international exchange of experience on all matters related to the covert deployment of police officers.” 2014 saw the 45th meeting of the group, which took place from 21 to 24 October in Warsaw. Poland organised the meeting itself, but Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office prepared the invitations and agenda “in close consultation with the Member States.”

    The same organisations from the list above were present to represent Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, and the UK. Also present were representatives from the Australian Federal Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    The IWG also has an International Business Secretariat (IBS), which has been the subject of previous parliamentary questions from Hunko and his colleagues.

    In 2014, the IBS held a meeting from 10 to 13 June in Oslo, with Norway organising the meeting and the UK preparing the invitations and agenda.

    Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office presented an agenda item on “biometrics” to the other delegations, who came from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

    Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW)

    The CSW was first convened in 2005. It appears to have been busier during 2014 than some of the other networks asked about by Die Linke deputies – a meeting of the CSW itself was held in Rome from 7 to 9 May, the steering group met on the 16 and 17 October in The Hague, and The Hague also played host to the ‘Assembly of Regional Groups on Surveillance’ (ARGOS), which was attended by CSW representatives. Italy organised the meeting in Rome, while the ARGOS conference was organised by Europol.

    The purpose of the meetings was “to enable the various mobile special mission units to exchange experiences and, building on this, the optimisation of cooperation during cross-border surveillance operations.”

    In response to questions about the CSW, the German made statements on the content of the agendas. The May meeting saw discussions on:

    The organisation of Italy’s R.O.S. Carabinieri force “and a case study of an abduction case”
    “Current status and outlook for the European Tracking System (ETS) and European Law”
    The European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS)
    “Presentation of the legal situation in Belgium and other Member States”
    “Use of different licence plates in the respective Member States”
    “Presentation of criminal activities and means of detection”
    “Police measures”
    “Air-based surveillance in the United Kingdom”
    “Challenges and opportunities arising from the use of technology in the fight against crime”
    “Legislative amendments and presentation of the organisation and deployment possibilities of the French police force”
    “Presentation of the different legal foundation and use of resources for the interception of private conversations in the participating countries”
    “Overview and presentation of an EU Framework Programme”
    The agenda for the ARGOS conference in November included:

    A presentation on the CSW
    “Presentation of a case study on cooperation in the field of surveillance (SENSEE)”
    The European Tracking System and European Law
    “Presentation of the Europol Liaison Officers ‘Working Group on Controlled Delivery'”
    “Presentation of the possible impacts of the European Investigation Order on cross-border surveillance” (the European Investigation Order was adopted in March 2014 and includes rules on cross-border covert investigations. [5])
    “Advantages of cross-departmental surveillance and administration”
    However, less detail was provided about the attendees, with the German government’s response stating:

    “The CSW meeting was attended by representatives of the mobile special mission units or comparable units from Belgium, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway and Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office). A representative of Europol also attended. The steering group meeting was attended by representatives from Germany (Federal Criminal Police Office), the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Europol. Representatives of 37 states attended the ARGOS conference.”

    International Specialist Law Enforcement

    As the IWG was meeting in Warsaw, organisations involved in the International Specialist Law Enforcement (ISLE) project were meeting in Rome, from 20 to 22 October. International Specialist Law Enforcement began life as an EU-funded project run by Belgium, Germany and the UK that sought to build “a network of [EU] Member State organisations that may develop coordination, cooperation and mutual understanding amongst law enforcement agencies using ‘specialist techniques’.” [6]

    Although it appeared in mid-2013 that the project might have been discontinued, [7] the German government’s answers show otherwise.

    The meeting was prepared, and the agenda drafted, by the German Federal Criminal Police Office and Europol. Including Germany, “members of mobile special mission units from 16 other EU Member States attended the ISLE meeting”.

    According to the German government, “the agenda included the following points”:

    “Future development of international cooperation in ISLE”
    “Discussion on the possibilities provided by the Europol Platform for Experts (EPE)”
    Workshops on using the EPE
    Expert Meeting Against Right Wing Extremism (EMRE)

    A meeting of the EU-funded EMRE project was held in Bonn, Germany, from 19 to 22 May, and was prepared by Germany’s BKA in cooperation with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Representatives from 25 EU Member States and Switzerland attended the event, which “centred around exchanging information on right-wing extremist and right-wing terrorist structures, right-wing events and Internet activities and their impact on the security situation in all European countries.”

    On the agenda was:

    “[A] lead-in presentation and presentations on the ‘Counter Terrorism Centre’ service unit in Hungary, a set of investigation files by the Czech Republic, the Joint Centre for Countering Right-Wing Extremism (Gemeinsames Abwehrzentrum Rechtsextremismus, GAR) by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the government exit programme for people seeking to leave the right-wing extremist scene in North Rhine-Westphalia.”

    The interest of the German authorities in addressing right-wing extremism is notable, given the well-documented failure to deal with a series of racist murders carried out by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground between 2000 and 2007. [8]

    Focal Point Dolphin and Europol’s data systems

    Europol’s Focal Point Dolphin is part of the agency’s ‘Analysis Work File’ on counter-terrorism, although it also contains information on political activism. [9]

    Two meetings were held during 2014 in relation to Dolphin, both at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague: one of the “target group BAZAAR” on 15 April, dealing with the financing of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party); and one from 12 to 14 November at a “Counter Terrorism Event”.

    The April meeting focused on “coordination and comparison of the information available in Europe on the financing of the PKK.” The agenda items for FP Dolphin at the Counter Terrorism Event were: “Overview, EIS [Europol Information System] in CT [counter-terrorism] work, ERWED/RWE Ukraine [RWE presumably stands for right-wing extremism], TG BAZAAR status and Ops MED status.”

    No German authorities attended the Counter Terrorism Event, but the Federal Criminal Police Office was present at the April meeting alongside representatives from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Europol.

    During 2014, the German government “made 24 data deliveries” to FP Dolphin, a minute amount compared to the overall number of German entries into the Europol Information System. As of 4 October 2012, Germany was responsible for 24,199 items in the EIS; on 18 October 2013, 36,047 items; and 30 September 2014, 49,449 items.

    According to the government’s response, “Germany is the second most frequent user of EIS,” and “conducted a total of 20,331 searches in the EIS in Q4 [fourth quarter] 2014.”

    The EIS contained entries on a total of 259,359 objects and people, although it is not clear what point in time this number relates to. The data in the system “is used mainly in the following areas of Europol’s mandate: drugs trafficking (28%), theft (19%), illegal immigration (11%), counterfeiting (8%) and fraud (6%).”

    The full response from the German government also contains responses to questions on the 2014 activities of:

    the ‘TC LI Group’ of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute;
    the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC);
    “the platform for police from South East Europe ‘Police Equal Performance’ (PEP)”;
    “twinning projects” between German authorities and other states;
    the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC);
    agreements and cooperation between Europol and non-EU states and organisations;
    agreements and cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states and organisations;
    the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (INTCEN);
    EU training for police due to serve abroad in “crisis management” missions;
    meetings of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
    the Police Working Group on Terrorism (PWGT);
    the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF); and
    the European Expert Network on Terrorism Issues (EENeT).
    Some significant information has come to light in recent years on undercover policing and the infilitration of protest movements. However, much remains unknown. The release of new information such as that obtained through the German Bundestag makes it possible to put together a picture of cross-border networks and their activities, but understanding in more detail their work – and holding state authorities to account for their actions – is far more difficult.

    In the UK, the police appear to have tried to ‘move on’ from the scandal by renaming and re-organising undercover policing units, most recently establishing the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit. [10] Keeping track of the organisations, individuals and institutions involved – and what is known of their activities – can help to make clear the wider picture and what can be done about it.


    Statewatch tracks developments in undercover policing; numerous articles can be found in our database
    The Undercover Research Group recently published webpages containing further information on numerous aspects of the police infilitration of political movements in Europe, and will at some point launch a Wikipedia-style website on the issue
    The Guardian’s Undercover blog has regular updates on developments, mainly focusing on the UK
    The Bristling Badger blog frequently contains forensic examinations of issues related to the undercover policing scandal

    Minor Interpellation submitted by Member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko and others and the Left Party parliamentary group, ‘Cooperation and projects by European police forces in 2014’, January 2015

    [1] ‘Another secretive European police working group revealed as governments remain tight-lipped on other police networks and the activities of Mark Kennedy’, Statewatch News Online, August 2012
    [2] ‘State guidelines for the exchange of undercover police officers revealed’, Statewatch News Online, May 2013
    [3] Matthias Monroy, ‘Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations’, Statewatch Journal, vol 21 no 2, April-June 2011
    [4] Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance; Police Spies Out of Lives
    [5] Council of the European Union, ‘Council adopts the “European Investigation Order” directive’, press release, 14 March 2014 (pdf); European Investigation Order (pdf)
    [6] ‘Another secretive European police working group revealed as governments remain tight-lipped on other police networks and the activities of Mark Kennedy’, Statewatch News Online, August 2012
    [7] ‘Uncertain future for EU-funded police project aimed at enhancing covert surveillance techniques’, Statewatch News Online, July 2013
    [8] ‘NSU Crime Spree Report Finds ‘Devastating’ Errors’, Spiegel Online, 23 August 2013
    [9] Andrej Hunko, ‘Abolish international databases on anarchy!’, press release, 5 June 2012
    [10] ‘Political Secret Police Units’, Bristling Badger, 5 February 2014


    Find this story at 20 February 2015

    © Statewatch

    OSZE in der Ukraine-Krise Friedensstifter im Kreuzfeuer

    Die Geiselnahme der OSZE-Militärbeobachter ist vorbei, die Debatte geht erst richtig los: CSU-Vize Gauweiler übt heftige Kritik, Verteidigungsministerin von der Leyen will den Einsatz überprüfen lassen. Und dann ist da noch der Vorwurf der Spionage, der die OSZE zu beschädigen droht.

    Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat am Sonntag den Telefonhörer in die Hand genommen. Am anderen Ende der Leitung: Wladimir Putin, der russische Präsident. Es war das erste Gespräch der beiden nach der Freilassung der OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die nach acht Tagen in der Gefangenschaft prorussischer Separatisten am Samstag freigekommen und nach Berlin ausgeflogen worden waren.

    Darüber habe sich Merkel am Telefon “erleichtert” gezeigt, teilte die Bundesregierung mit. Der Schwerpunkt des Gesprächs sei aber ein anderer gewesen: Die Kanzlerin habe mit Putin vor allem über den Besuch von Didier Burkhalter beim russischen Präsidenten am Mittwoch geredet.

    Welche Rolle spielt die OSZE?
    Burkhalter ist Bundespräsident der Schweiz und amtierender Vorsitzender der OSZE, der Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa. Ihre Hauptaufgabe: Frieden sichern. Die Ukraine, Russland und 55 weitere Staaten sind Mitglieder dieser Konferenz, die 1975 mit der Schlussakte von Helsinki unter dem Namen KSZE gegründet wurde und sich immer als blockübergreifend betrachtet hat. Damit ist sie – eigentlich – gut geeignet, um in der Ukraine-Krise zu vermitteln, in der es auch um die russische Furcht vor einer Ausbreitung der Nato nach Osten geht.


    Doch die Vermittlung hat sich seit Beginn der Krise als schwierig erwiesen. Burkhalters Idee einer internationalen Kontaktgruppe wurde nie umgesetzt. Von Burkhalters “persönlichem Gesandten” für die Ukraine, Tim Guldimann, ist wenig zu hören. Ein Mitte April zwischen der Ukraine, Russland, USA und EU vereinbartes Genfer Abkommen wird von Moskau als gescheitert betrachtet. In ihm war die Entwaffnung illegaler Kräfte und ein Gewaltverzicht vereinbart worden. Beides lässt auf sich warten, weshalb Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier nun ein zweites Treffen in Genf fordert. Burkhalter hingegen will “runde Tische” etablieren, um die Präsidentschaftswahl in der Ukraine am 25. Mai vorzubereiten.

    Nato-Spione unter dem Deckmantel der OSZE?
    Vor allem in Deutschland wird die Arbeit der OSZE überlagert von der Debatte um die Geiselnahme in Slawjansk. Dort, im Osten der Ukraine, waren am 25. April die Militärbeobachter – darunter vier Deutsche – von prorussischen Separatisten entführt worden. Der Anführer der Separatisten, Wjatscheslaw Ponomarjow, rechtfertigte die Entführung mit dem Vorwurf, die Beobachter seien Spione der Nato.

    Seitdem tobt in der Politik, aber auch in Medien und Leserkommentarspalten, ein zum Teil erbitterter Streit über mehrere Punkte: Welche Rolle spielte die OSZE? Warum fuhren die Beobachter nach Slawjansk? Und, neuerdings: Warum war der deutsche Leiter der Gruppe, Axel Schneider, seinem Geiselnehmer gegenüber so höflich? Aber der Reihe nach.

    Direkt nach der Geiselnahme hatte Claus Neukirch, Sprecher der Organisation, im österreichischen Fernsehen erklärt: “Ich muss sagen, dass es sich im Grunde genommen nicht um Mitarbeiter der OSZE handelt.” Diese Passage wird seitdem immer wieder als Beweis dafür angeführt, dass es sich bei den Geiseln tatsächlich um Spione handle. Dabei sagte Neukirch auch: “Es sind Militärbeobachter, die dort bilateral unter einem OSZE-Dokument tätig sind.”

    Dieses “Wiener Dokument 2011” (hier als PDF) erlaubt es jedem der 57 OSZE-Mitgliedsländer, andere Länder um die Entsendung von Militärbeobachtern zu bitten, um “ungewöhnliche militärische Vorgänge” zu untersuchen. Genau das ist passiert. Die Ukraine berief sich darauf.

    Nach den gescheiterten Einsätzen auf der Krim gemäß Kapitel III des Dokuments (Verminderung der Risiken) bat Kiew um weitere Missionen gemäß der Kapitel IX (Einhaltung und Verifikation) und insbesondere Kapitel X (Regionale Maßnahmen), in dem es heißt: “Die Teilnehmerstaaten werden ermutigt, unter anderem auf der Grundlage von Sondervereinbarungen in bilateralem, multilateralem oder regionalem Zusammenhang Maßnahmen zur Steigerung der Transparenz und des Vertrauens zu ergreifen.” Diese Maßnahmen könnten angepasst und im regionalen Zusammenhang angewendet werden.

    Auf dieser Basis wurden in der Ukraine bislang nacheinander fünf multinationale Teams von jeweils etwa acht Militärbeobachtern aktiv. Die erste Mission begann Ende März unter dänischer Leitung, dann übernahm Polen als “Lead Nation”, gefolgt von den Niederlanden und schließlich Deutschland. Inzwischen ist eine neunköpfige Gruppe aktiv, die von Kanada geführt wird. Weitere Team-Mitglieder kommen aus Frankreich, Moldawien, den USA und der Ukraine selbst.

    Die OSZE listet die Mission auf ihrer Website unter dem Titel “Verschiedene Formen des OSZE-Engagements mit der Ukraine” auf. Ein OSZE-Twitterkanal sprach am Sonntag von einer “OSZE-Militärverifikationsmission”.

    Der Vorwurf, das Team habe nichts mit der OSZE zu tun gehabt, ist also haltlos. Was die Spionage betrifft: Während der Dolmetscher vom Bundessprachenamt in Hürth kommt, gehören die drei Soldaten dem Zentrum für Verifikationsaufgaben der Bundeswehr (ZVBw) im nordrhein-westfälischen Geilenkirchen an. Dort gibt es nach SZ-Informationen zwar auch eine geheime Außenstelle des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Doch keiner der Männer war für den Geheimdienst – oder sein militärisches Pendant, den Militärischen Abschirmdienst – tätig. Der BND berät deutsche OSZE-Beobachter allerdings vor ihren Einsätzen. Auch wenn die OSZE-Beobachter also selbst keine Spione sind, zu tun haben sie mit ihnen allemal.

    Warum gerade Slawjansk? Von der Leyen verspricht Prüfung
    Wie das deutsche Verteidigungsministerium erklärte, besuchen OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die über Diplomatenstatus verfügen, Orte auf Empfehlung des Gastgebers. Wohin sie fahren, entscheidet letztlich der jeweilige Leiter der Mission. Warum Oberst Axel Schneider das Risiko einging, sich in unmittelbare Nähe der Separatisten zu begeben, ist unklar – und ein Streitpunkt in Berlin, über die politischen Lager hinweg.

    Der SPD-Verteidigungsexperte Lars Klingbeil fordert in der Bild-Zeitung Aufklärung darüber, ob die Militärbeobachter wirklich die Aufgabe hatten, nach Slawjansk zu fahren. Die Bundesregierung habe das bislang “nicht plausibel erklären können”, kritisiert etwa die Vorsitzende der Linkspartei, Katja Kipping, im Gespräch mit der Zeitung Die Welt.

    Außenminister Steinmeier verteidigte hingegen die Mission: Sie habe wertvolle Hinweise geliefert. Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen kündigte an, den Einsatz überprüfen zu wollen. Sie sagte aber auch: “Wir lassen uns nicht einschüchtern.”

    Der Verteidigungsexperte der Grünen im Bundestag, Omid Nouripour, sagte SZ.de, er sei für die Überprüfung des Einsatzes. “Aber wir dürfen jetzt nicht eine Diskussion anzetteln, die am Ende dazu führt, dass sich Deutschland nicht mehr beteiligt an einem jahrzehntelang bewährtem Instrumentarium.” Die OSZE-Mission sei “in vollem Wissen Russlands” absolviert worden. “Das Instrument ist ein Gutes.”

    Warum so höflich dem Geiselnehmer gegenüber? Alle gegen Gauweiler
    Als der selbsternannte Bürgermeister von Slawjansk, Ponomarjow, am 27. April seine Geiseln der Weltpresse vorführte, bedankte sich Oberst Schneider bei ihm und gab ihm die Hand. Der CSU-Bundestagsabgeordnete Peter Gauweiler hat das im Spiegel kritisiert: “Der ganze Vorgang macht auch für die Bundeswehr einen unguten Eindruck.” Deutschland habe sich “in dieser plumpen Weise noch tiefer in den Konflikt hineinziehen” lassen.

    Nun hagelt es wiederum Kritik an Gauweiler. Der CDU-Europaabgeordnete Elmar Brok nannte dessen Äußerungen “komplett unverständlich”. Der Parlamentarische Geschäftsführer der CSU-Landesgruppe, Max Straubinger, sprach von einer “ziemlichen Frechheit, vom gemütlichen Schreibtisch in München aus das Verhalten deutscher Soldaten in Geiselhaft zu maßregeln”.

    Und auch der Grüne Nouripour reagiert mit Unverständnis auf Gauweiler: Was er von Oberst Schneider auf der Pressekonferenz gesehen habe, sei konfliktentschärfend gewesen und damit “vorbildlich.”

    OSZE-Militärbeobachter werden vor ihrem Einsatz in Konfliktbewältigung geschult. Vermutlich hat Schneider also nur umgesetzt, was er gelernt hat.

    5. Mai 2014 13:46
    Von Michael König und Markus C. Schulte von Drach

    Find this story at 5 May 2014

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