5 December 2013, 19:25

British intelligence anxious to catch Snowden in Russia - investigative journalist

British intelligence anxious to catch Snowden in Russia - investigative journalist

"Britain's spy-infested embassy in Moscow has taken the lead among the 'FIVE EYES' signals intelligence allies to locate the whereabouts of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in Russia," says Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist and former US Naval Officer, in his article titled "Desperately seeking Snowden", speculates about numerous and multifaceted attempts of the British intelligence to locate and catch Edward Snowden in Russia and outlines reasons for its outstanding diligence in doing the job.

Madsen points out that the British government seems to be the most interested in renditioning Snowden than its other partners of the FIVE EYES, which, besides, the US, includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to Madsen, the British are willing to catch Snowden mostly out of urge to get back at him for "the alleged damage his revelations caused British electronic surveillance operations around the world" rather than "desire to ingratiate Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GHCQ) and Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) with their American counterparts, the NSA and CIA, respectively".

Madsen supports that statement quoting British Prime Minister David Cameron who said he considered Snowden as well any likes of him "terrorists".

Most visible Britain's reaction to Snowden's revelations was during testimony before the British Parliament when Britain's top three intelligence chiefs, that is, John Sawers of MI-6; Andrew Parker of MI-5; and Iain Lobben of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart of NSA, accused Snowden and his partners of "aiding Al Qaeda". Former British Defense Secretary Liam Fox even took the liberty to request Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions to look into the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger, its former reporter Glenn Greenwald, and Greenwald’s partner David Miranda to determine if they violated anti-terrorism laws.

Madsen reminds that "Miranda was detained by British authorities on August 18 as he was transiting through Heathrow airport en route from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro" for his connection to the Snowden case, while in July, Bolivian President Evo Morales, traveling home from Russia, was searched in Vienna by the Spanish ambassador enjoying full support of the British embassy in Moscow, as they suspected that the President might be secretly bringing Snowden over to Bolivia with him.

Since Snowden was granted temporary political asylum in Russiam his location has been kept secret. In October, he had a meeting with four other American national whistleblowers -- Ray McGovern, formerly of the CIA; Colleen Rowley, formerly with the FBI; former NSA official Tom Drake, and former Justice Department prosecutor Jesselyn Radack at an undisclosed location in Moscow. Snowden was presented with the Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence.

After the aforementioned meeting British MI-6 case officers assigned to the British embassy in Moscow, according to Madsen, "began using NSA and GCHQ "contact chaining" intelligence gathered from surveillance of Facebook and other social networking systems to identify Snowden's location. The contact chaining began with the Facebook, Twitter, as well as phone call metadata, information derived from the four American visitors to Moscow."

According to Madsen, Snowden's disclosure of documents on contact chaining revealed that "SID Management Directive (SMD) 424 (SIGINT Development - Communications Metadata Analysis), signed on November 29, 2010, permits NSA and its partners, including GCHQ, to permit contact chaining, and other analysis, from and through any selector, irrespective of nationality or location, in order to follow or discover valid foreign intelligence targets".

The new directive also allows GCHQ and NSA employ contact chaining intelligence dealing with foreign targets, "U.S. Communicants" included, if there is a "foreign intelligence (FI) justification", which in Snowden's case was recognized and approved.

Contact chaining via social networks and email contact lists is used for developing "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness of every node or address in the graph". The latter when talking about Snowden would be all people he has contacted and all people who have contacted him back.

The roof of Russia's British Eembassy in Moscow is bristled up with antennas and other surveillance equipment, with a dome which serves as a cover for a satellite communications antenna. Also, according to Madsen, a "rooftop green radome, housing a satellite dish, keeps the embassy’s MI-6 agents, working under diplomatic as security officers, maintenance men, and British Council employees, as well as GCHQ signals intelligence operators, in constant contact with MI-5 headquarters at Vauxhall Station in London; GCHQ in Cheltenham, England; NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and the massive NSA surveillance station in Menwith Hill, England."

The embassy officers have specifically been trained to keep an eye on Snowden, his Russian support personnel, and foreign visitors, like the four American whistleblowers and German Green Party legislator Hans-Christian Strobele.

Locating Snowden is top priority for British intelligence, regardless of this fact shading the impropved relations between Britain and Russia. Madsen adds that "the operation is known to involve the number one MI-6 officer at the embassy, whose diplomatic cover is 'director of regional security'".

Madsen argues that the process of kidnapping Snowden, referred to as "rendition," is quite problematic for the secret services, however, there is hope the Russian security servives will be distracted by the up coming Winter Olympics which are to start February 7, 2014 in Sochi. The Britisj services might wait for a lapse in security chain of the Russian forces and use it to snatch the whistleblower.

Madsen concludes his article quoting the first NSA whistleblower, Perry Fellwock, who used the pseudonym Winslow Peck after revealing NSA surveillance operations in 1972 Fellwock recently came into light to make comments on Snowden case. "Fellwock told Gawker.com that the NSA and its FIVE EYES partners are independent of their governments, 'an entity unto itself'. This entity will stop at nothing to capture Edward Snowden regardless of international law and diplomatic protocols," - Madsen quoted.

Voice of Russia, strategic-culture.org

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