INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 30 2017

Moscow prepares retaliation for U.S. seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds — A German court on Tuesday rejected a request to release a Swiss man being held on suspicion of spying. —  Obama Admin Relied On Outside Country For ‘Critical Intelligence’ Claiming Russia Interference — FBI grills Kaspersky workers in counter-intelligence probe

Moscow prepares retaliation for U.S. seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds — Reuters

Moscow is preparing retaliatory measures to Washington’s decision to seize two Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States in 2016, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

In December, U.S. seized two Russian diplomatic compounds as then President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russians over what he said was their involvement in hacking to interfere in the U.S. presidential election campaign.

Moscow, which denies such allegations, did not retaliate immediately, saying it would wait to see if relations improved under President Donald Trump.

“Retaliatory measures are being prepared. As you understand, such a decision on the issue won’t be made only by the foreign ministry,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

A German court on Tuesday rejected a request to release a Swiss man being held on suspicion of spying.  — The Local

A German court on Tuesday rejected a request to release a Swiss man being held on suspicion of spying.

The Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, south ruled that a 54-year-old arrested at the end of April must remain in custody, a spokesperson of the Attorney-General’s Office told Swiss media.

“The arrest warrant is maintained and will be kept in place,” the spokesperson told news agencies, confirming an online report by SRF.

German prosecutors arrested Daniel M. in a Frankfurt hotel on suspicion of carrying out espionage activities since 2012, and one week ago his lawyers had called for the arrest warrant to be lifted.

In a written statement submitted to the Karlsruhe court last week, the defence lawyers said Daniel M. had received “occasional small orders” from the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) but that these were of “secondary” importance and the information gathered did not go against German interests.

The man was tasked with identifying German tax investigators who purchased CDs containing details of bank account holders in foreign tax havens such as Switzerland.

This information helped Swiss authorities file charges against three German tax inspectors for breaching Swiss banking laws and economic espionage.

Obama Admin Relied On Outside Country For ‘Critical Intelligence’ Claiming Russia Interference — breitbart

The source of the intelligence led to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) reluctance to make conclusions with high confidence based on the data, the Post reported.

Those details were buried inside an extensive, 7,700-plus word Washington Post article published last week titled, “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.” The piece was based on interviews with over three dozen “current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services.”

A section inside the article contains this revelation:

Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.

The Post article seems to be the first public explanation for why the NSA only assessed with “moderate confidence” the conclusion of a January 6, 2017 U.S. Intelligence Community report alleging the Russian government sought to aid Donald Trump’s “election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The CIA and FBI, by contrast, affirmed that judgement with “high confidence” in the intelligence report.

The Washington Post article further provided a window into the Obama administration’s compartmentalization of the reported intelligence effort said to be probing alleged Russian attempts to interfere in the election.

According to the newspaper, in the summer of 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan convened a “secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.”

FBI grills Kaspersky workers in counter-intelligence probe — IT Wire

The FBI has interviewed a number of employees of security firm Kaspersky Lab, in a bid to find out more about the company’s operations as part of a counter-intelligence probe.

NBC News cited sources as saying that the FBI agents had visited employees at their residences on both the east and west coasts after work was done.

The report said there was no indication that the FBI’s actions were part of the probe being conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

A few days back, a report in the Washington Post claimed that Kaspersky Lab could have become collateral in the power games between the US and Russia, after the Obama administration reportedly discovered that Russia had made plans to influence the 2016 election.

Eugene Kaspersky, the head of Kaspersky Lab, has himself said that he has no idea why the US is targeting his company.

The US government is reviewing whether to continue using Kaspersky’s anti-malware software in its offices, with unsubstantiated claims floating around to the effect that Russia is using the software to spy on the US.

US Defence Intelligence Agency director Vincent Stewart was quoted in May as saying, “we are tracking Kaspersky and their software”.

NBC News said Kaspersky Lab had been a subject of interest to the US government for a long time, as Eugene reportedly had close ties to some Russian intelligence figures.

It also quoted sources as saying that Kaspersky Lab had paid Michael Flynn, who was briefly the national security adviser in the Trump administration, US$11,250 in 2015 for cyber-security advice. However, this was not something the FBI had pursued.

The report said the FBI agents had informed the employees that they were only gathering information about the company’s operations and the reporting structure between the facilities in the US and Moscow.

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INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 30 2017

 

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