British 'spy' arrested in Russian secrets plot - 2007


British 'spy' arrested in Russian secrets plot

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2007

A former British soldier has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the Russian intelligence services, it can be disclosed today. Peter Hill, a former Territorial Army trooper in the Royal Armoured Corps, was detained under the Official Secrets Act, for allegedly attempting to sell classified military documents to the Russians. He was arrested following a Metropolitan Police "sting" in which an undercover officer was understood to have posed as a Kremlin agent. Hill, 23, described as an "opportunist", is understood to have been under surveillance for some time and was arrested in Leeds last Wednesday evening, within minutes of the alleged exchange taking place. It is understood the alleged security breach was from a Government establishment and not from a commercial military supplier or manufacturer. The documents he is alleged to have tried to leak concern sensitive military information. The former trooper comes from Colne, in Lancashire but lives and works in Skipton, North Yorkshire, where a residential and business premises has been searched as part of the police operation.

Hill, who is understood to have recently been working as a bailiff, was questioned at a police station in Leeds. He was also arrested under the Explosive Substances Act after the discovery of suspicious material during the searches. The material is understood to be related to his service with the Territorials and has nothing to do with his alleged spying. The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that MI5 now believes there are 30 intelligence officers working "under cover" in the Russian embassy who are trying to steal Britain's military and political secrets. A document, circulated to British military bases three weeks ago, states: "It is all too easy to overlook the threat from espionage that this country faces. The activity by the Russian Intelligence Services - External Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Military Intelligence Service (GRU) - is as extensive now as at any time during the Cold War. "It is believed there are 30 intelligence officers working under cover in the Russian embassy, consulate and trade delegation. Rather than seeking intelligence on purely military hardware, they seek intelligence on a range of technologies as well as policy attitudes to the EU, Nato, G8, our allies as well as UK foreign policy."

Last night, Hill, of Lambert Street Skipton, was bailed by police over the spying allegations. Although the alleged offence took place in Leeds, the serious nature of the case meant the Scotland Yard-based Special Branch, a part of the Metropolitan Police, was involved. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "At approximately 8.10pm on November 7, officers from the Metropolitan Police arrested a man in his 20s at an address in Leeds under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. The man was further arrested under Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883. Following an application to court for an extension of custody the man remains in custody at a Yorkshire police station." Hill's lawyer Grahame Stowe, refused to comment, but confirmed he was representing a man who had been arrested under the Official Secrets Act. Referring to the activities of the Russians, the document sent to bases went on: "They are most likely to seek to make and build relationships. All contacts with citizens from countries where special security regulations apply are to be reported to G2 and 235 Military Intelligence Section."

Jonathan Evans, the new head of MI5, warned just last week that the espionage threat posed by the Russian intelligence services was diverting valuable resources ways from the fight against Islamist terrorism. Hill's page on the MySpace website says that he went to the acclaimed xxxxheroe Royal Grammar School, in Lancashire, before studying philosophy, politics and economics at Keele University. As a child, he attended Park Primary in Colne, and Park High School. Last night his mother Anne Browne, from her home in Keighley Road, Colne, said: "I don't know anything until we get more information." A Russian embassy spokesman said that he was unaware of the details surrounding the arrest. Hill is due to appear at Leeds magistrates' court tomorrow charged under Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...11/nspy111.xml


In other news:


As It Rises, Russia Stirs Baltic Fears

Revival Prosperity is evident, but Lithuanians worry about the motives behind Russian investment in their country

EVEN as Jonas Kronkaitis, now retired as Lithuania’s top general, admires the transformation of this once drab Soviet city into a proud member of the New Europe, a worry eats at him: Russian power is rapidly returning to the Baltics, only this time the weapons are oil and money, not tanks. General Kronkaitis has a unique perspective. He fled Lithuania to America as a boy in 1944, and served nearly 30 years in the United States Army before returning to command his newly independent country’s military in the 1990’s. He engineered its entry into NATO in 2004, thinking this would help cement security for the tiny Baltic nation. Now he says his hopeful view was wrong.

The signs of Russia’s resurgent influence are everywhere in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia: in Kremlin-financed media; in the financing of local politicians and economic development; in a growing assertiveness, encouraged by Moscow, among the third of the Baltic population that is of Russian heritage; in the Kremlin’s manipulation of its energy supplies as a bludgeon. These tactics — especially the use of Russian cash — have evoked stress in the Baltics that was unthinkable even five years ago. “What we are afraid of is the very huge money that comes from Russia that can be used to corrupt our officials,” General Kronkaitis said in an interview. “And I’m talking about very large money. Money can then be used to control our government. Then Lithuania, in a very subtle way, over many years perhaps, becomes dominated and loses its independence.”

“Over many years” may be an understatement, Baltic nationalists say. In 2004, Lithuania’s president was impeached for alleged connections to Russia’s secret service and big business. It all seems part of a strategy by President Vladimir Putin to revive Russian power in much of Eastern Europe. For the Balts, any move that angers Russia runs huge risks. Last month, for example, the Estonian state prosecutor charged four ethnic Russians with organizing riots in April to protest the government’s move of a statue of a Soviet soldier from the capital to a suburb as the anniversary of victory in World War II neared. The Russian-language press had egged on the protesters.

“There is reason to believe that financial support and advice to organize mass disorders was also received from the Russian Federation,” the prosecutor said. After the riots, hackers briefly paralyzed Estonia’s government and banks, and Estonia said the cyberattacks were traced to Kremlin addresses. The tensions over the riots come as the Baltic countries are trying to challenge Russia’s energy monopoly. All three are resisting an ambitious Russian-German plan to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would send gas directly from Russia to Western Europe — bypassing the Baltics and cutting them out of transit fees and access to the flow. Estonia has led this opposition, with a challenge on environmental grounds. Many Balts find it disheartening that the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, sits on the board of the joint venture, in which Russians hold a 51 percent interest.

Gazprom, the Russian oil giant, already controls more than 35 percent of Baltic gas companies. Latvia has been cut off from an old Russian oil pipeline since 2003 and Lithuania since 2006, forcing them to import more expensive oil by ship. The Russians blame pipeline problems, but Latvians and Lithuanians don’t believe that; Estonia was shut off for several weeks after the spring riots. Any Baltic defiance of Russian pressure is made more emotional by their shared and bitter history. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania began the 20th century under Russia’s czars but gained independence after World War I.

Then, after the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact in 1939, Soviet troops swept in and Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Balts to die in Siberian gulags. When Hitler’s troops marched through in turn, many Balts saw the Germans as liberators — and significant numbers collaborated with the Nazis to annihilate the region’s xxxs. After the war came an influx of Russian workers whose presence would, in time, be cited by the Soviets to claim that these states should never again get independence. For its part, the Putin government has campaigned for ethnic Russians to insist on attaining a stronger voice by accepting Baltic citizenship.

“In the Baltics, history is a ghost that still walks the streets in a very active way,” said Daina Eglitis of George Washington University. “It’s not just past, it’s present. But people have different readings on it.”

One example is a Vilnius tourist attraction, the torture chambers of the old K.G.B. headquarters, which had been Gestapo headquarters. It is now the Museum of Genocide Victims, but “genocide” applies only to what Russians did to Balts — not to what Nazis and their local collaborators did to xxxs. The museum all but ignores the Baltic people’s role in the Holocaust, an omission that angers not only xxxs, but also Russians, who view the Soviets as liberators and are now reasserting control over the historical record. For example, a new pan-Baltic Russian-language television station, financed by the Kremlin, often features documentaries that praise the Soviet Union.

About one-third of Lithuania’s television stations are already in Russian. “Russians buy our politicians, they buy our press, and they buy our minds — I think that’s all,” Indre Makaraityte, editor of Revival, an independent Lithuanian newspaper, said sarcastically. She organized a demonstration in May to support Estonia against the ethnic Russians’ protests and show solidarity with the West. But she says she was disheartened when European and American leaders took a week to condemn Russia after the riots.

“We became members of NATO and E.U. expecting we would be defended immediately,” she said. “There’s a fear of Russia, and a fear that we are again alone, not defended by our Western partners. They are too naïve in evaluating Russia.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/we...html?ref=world

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