Exposure of police spy Mark Kennedy revealed a little about international espionage, but much remains hidden
More light has been shed recently on a particularly hidden area of undercover policing. The Mark Kennedy controversy helped to provide a little glimpse of this, but much remains unknown.
During his seven years infiltrating the environmental movement, Kennedy spent quite a lot of time spying on, and disrupting, activists in other countries.
The Channel Four documentary on him called him ‘the go-to cop for foreign governments who needed information about their own activists’.
He was deployed in 11 countries on 40 occasions, according to one official report. These countries included Germany, Denmark and Iceland. In Denmark, for instance, he says that he infiltrated a Danish community centre that had housed progressive causes for more than a century, obtaining intelligence to help police storm it and close it down in violent raids.
Mark Jacobs was another of the undercover officers who appears to have engaged in frequent Euro-travel to monitor campaigners.
What has emerged is a highly secretive official apparatus among governments for organising and co-ordinating this cross-border espionage. There appears to be a network of clandestine bodies in which police and governments manage the infiltration and surveillance of political as well as criminal groups.
We would of course be interested in any information on this subject.
Statewatch, which monitors civil liberties in Europe, has recently published this here, noting :”Information currently in the public domain makes up only a small piece of a global puzzle of police working groups and networks dealing with infiltration, intrusion and surveillance not just of criminal groups, but political activists”.
One politician who has pursued this with some vigour is German MP Andrej Hunko. He has recently published a detailed document collating information about these official networks, mainly from official answers in the German Parliament. It can be found here at the end of this document.
Hunko said :”When police forces and intelligence services engage in international cooperation, parliamentary oversight is the loser. The increasing significance of undercover police networks is making this situation far more critical.”
He added that Kennedy’s “infiltration of European leftist movements exemplifies police cooperation conducted beyond the bounds of parliamentary oversight. It remains unclear under whose orders the undercover investigator was operating during the years of his activity.”
He added :”The Icelandic police are stubbornly rejecting requests from the Minister of Justice to release full details of his activity into the public domain, claiming that disclosure would prejudice British security interests. Even though Members of the Icelandic Parliament have a right to ask questions on police matters, they are not being given any information.”
The British government has not disclosed much about these confidential networks either.
Friday 31 August 2012 15.33 BST Last modified on Wednesday 21 May 2014 08.01 BST
Find this story at 31 August 2012
© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited