AOH :: ISN-3294.HTM

Russian spies target Western technology

Russian spies target Western technology
Russian spies target Western technology 


As Canadian security agencies scrambled to arrest an alleged Russian spy 
this month, President Vladimir Putin landed by helicopter atop the new 
$400-million headquarters for one of his country's intelligence 

Inspecting the palatial building northwest of Moscow, he reportedly 
paused to fire a few pistols in the built-in firing range, before 
proudly pronouncing it "the best-equipped complex that any intelligence 
agency in any country has."

Halfway around the world in Montreal's Trudeau Airport, authorities were 
keeping a lookout for an ostensible Canadian citizen by the name of Paul 
William Hampel. He had been flagged as an "illegal" and a serious threat 
to national security.

His arrest, based on information gathered by the Canadian Security 
Intelligence Service, amounts to a clear message from Ottawa to Russia 
and other spying nations: We're watching you and we know what you're 

Similar scenes have played out in many cities of late. In Prague this 
September, authorities kicked out an alleged Russian spy for trying to 
steal NATO and European Union secrets. A year earlier, in Japan, another 
alleged Russian spy -- posing as an Italian consultant -- was arrested 
for trying to steal semi-conductors that could be used in military 
guidance systems. Not long before that, an Irish businessman was 
arrested at Los Angeles airport, the FBI accusing him of touring Silicon 
Valley to buy electronic eavesdropping equipment for Russia.

Details of the new Canadian case will be divulged in Federal Court in 
Montreal next week, though much will likely stay secret to prevent 
prying eyes from learning Canada's counterintelligence techniques.

Experts say they expect the evidence will align with Moscow's modus 

The fading power, now led by former KGB agents like Mr. Putin, is 
increasingly sending its eyes and ears abroad to try to close its 
20-year technology gap in Western technologies and military systems.

The spies also want to learn more about Western corporations and other 
organizations it views as encroaching upon Russia and its traditional 
spheres of influence.

With the West's current preoccupation with fighting terrorism -- a 
struggle in which Russia has aligned itself as an ally --relatively 
little is being said about continuing counterintelligence efforts.

The Cold War may be long gone, but elements live on. It has been 
estimated there could be as many as 100 Russian spies in the United 
States, another 40 in Britain.

In Canada, CSIS will say only that it is trying to keep its eyes on 150 
foreign spies in total. It's not known how many take orders from Moscow.

"There are, at any given time, a number of foreign governments who try 
to conduct espionage operations in Canada," CSIS director Jim Judd told 
a Senate committee this year.

". . . We take exception to those kinds of things and we try to actively 
monitor those activities and, where necessary, intervene to stop them."

Michael Donner, a former FBI Russian section chief and chief of 
counterintelligence, said in an interview that Canada and U.S. agencies 
work closely together to keep tabs on potential spies.

"We work well with your security services on many different fronts," 
said Mr. Donner, who retired from the FBI this year.

He added that "the Russians want to know where technology and our 
research is going and they want to know where money is spent on military 
technology . . . their mission is to find out where the money and 
dollars is being spent."

Because military technology is now based on elaborate computer systems, 
targets have grown beyond the traditional U.S. defence contractors.

Canada has highly developed telecommunications and aerospace sectors 
that could be of interest to foreign entities.

Government departments that deal in innovation and energy -- such as the 
National Research Council or Natural Resources Canada -- could also make 
attractive targets.

More ambitious spies seeking political knowledge might even try to 
target agencies like the Privy Council Office, a repository of 
government secrets.

Canadian citizenship and passports have also been highly valued over 
time by foreign spies and terrorists.

In a plot reminiscent of the Nikolai Gogol's novel Dead Souls, a husband 
and wife Russian spying team used the names of dead Canadian children to 
assume fake identities. They had obtained false Canadian passports 
before they were deported in 1996.

Foreign spies "use Canada as way of getting across the border into the 
United States," Bill Gertz, the Washington-based author of Enemies: How 
America's Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets [1], said in an interview.

An investigative reporter for The Washington Times, he added that "the 
FBI is saying that Russian spying is at Cold War levels. The presence 
and aggressiveness has reached what it was."


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