March 2020 Intelligence News
- Ken McCallum Named New Chief of UK's MI5 Security Service Sputnik 30 Mar 2020 -- McCallum replaces Andrew Parker, who is set to retire in April, at the post. He has occupied the position since 2013.
- New MI5 director general appointed at a time of high crisis Press TV 30 Mar 2020 -- The British Security Service (MI5) is set for a new director general as the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
- Britain's Spymaster: What Do We Know About MI5's New Director General Ken McCallum Sputnik 30 Mar 2020 -- Sir Andrew Parker, 58, is stepping down as head of MI5 - Britain's internal intelligence service. Sir Andrew will be replaced by Ken McCallum, who led the Sergei Skripal inquiry.
- Army of PRC Twitter Bots Peddles Disinformation About Virus Origins Radio Free Asia 30 Mar 2020 -- China has set up multiple fake bot accounts on Twitter using Radio Free Asia's logo and descriptions to tweet fake news in recent months, including allegations that the coronavirus came from the U.S., a recent investigative report has found.
- US Pushes Back Against Russian, Chinese, Iranian Coronavirus Disinformation VOA 27 Mar 2020 -- Top U.S. adversaries appear to be coming together, using social media and other cyber means to amplify disinformation regarding the coronavirus, with the intent of harming the United States and hindering efforts to curb the global pandemic.
- The Spokesman Tweets: a Closer Look at China's Infowars Radio Free Asia 26 Mar 2020 -- Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, lionized as a defender of China by its tightly controlled state media, has recently taken to Twitter to promote the claim that the coronavirus didn't originate in China -- a move which analysts said is part of a broader overseas disinformation campaign being waged by Beijing.
- London Court Refuses Defence Plea to Release Assange from Prison Amid Coronavirus Concerns Sputnik 25 Mar 2020 -- Assange's defence team earlier applied for bail over concerns for their client's health in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Lawyers for WikiLeaks Founder to Ask for Bail VOA 24 Mar 2020 -- Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange say they will file papers Wednesday to have him released on bail because he is at risk of contracting coronavirus.
- Trial Begins for Former US Marine Accused of Espionage in Russia VOA 24 Mar 2020 -- The long-awaited trial of a former U.S. Marine facing charges of espionage got under way in Moscow on Monday – with U.S. officials accusing Russia of providing no evidence in a spy case that has proved an added irritant to already troubled relations between the two countries.
- Analysts: Russia Using Virus Crisis to Sow Discord in West VOA 20 Mar 2020 -- Russia is very likely behind a disinformation campaign on coronavirus in the Western media, intended to fuel panic and discord among allies, experts tell VOA.
- Date Set For Trial Of U.S. Citizen Charged With 'Espionage' In Russia RFE/RL 19 Mar 2020 -- The trial of a former U.S. Marine who is being held in a Moscow prison on espionage charges will start on March 23, his lawyers say.
- Top Secret No Longer: MI5 Confirms Existence of Previously Unheard of CounterIntelligence Unit Sputnik 19 Mar 2020 -- The unit is said to be based at Thames House in London, home to the UK's domestic counterintelligence and security agency, MI5.
- EU Monitors Say Pro-Kremlin Media Spread Coronavirus Disinformation RFE/RL 18 Mar 2020 -- Pro-Kremlin media outlets are actively spreading disinformation about coronavirus in an attempt to "undermine public trust" in Western countries, according to an internal European Union document.
- MI5 discloses existence of new national security centre Press TV 17 Mar 2020 -- The British Security Service, MI5, has been leading a new national security centre, focused on countering hostile activities by foreign powers, since June 2017, but information about its existence has only come to light today.
- U.S. Drops Criminal Case Against Russian Company Accused Of Election Interference RFE/RL 17 Mar 2020 -- The United States has dropped its criminal case against a company controlled by a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin that allegedly funded an infamous social-media campaign to meddle in the 2016 presidential elections.
- More Glimpses Of How Russian Intelligence Utilized Hackers Revealed In U.S. Trial RFE/RL 16 Mar 2020 -- One month after he was indicted in the United States for hacking-related cybercrimes, a Russian man named Nikita Kislitsin sat in a room at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow where FBI agents notified him of the charges.
- Trump Says He May Pardon Former National-Security Adviser Flynn RFE/RL 16 Mar 2020 -- U.S. President Donald Trump said he may pardon his former national-security adviser Michael Flynn, who was among the first individuals swept up in the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.
- Release of Canadian report on foreign meddling puts pressure on UK government to follow suit Press TV 15 Mar 2020 -- The imminent publication of a Canadian parliamentary report into foreign interference in Canadian public life has placed renewed pressure on the British government to release a similar report on Russian interference in British politics.
- Israel Says Will Track Phones of Patients Diagnosed with COVID-19 VOA 15 Mar 2020 -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of sharp restrictions on Israelis to combat the spread of COVID-19. The measures include an almost-total shutdown of the country except for pharmacies and supermarkets and a ban on gatherings of more than ten people. He also said he wants to use cyber-measures to track the locations of those infected.
- White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations: Report Press TV 13 Mar 2020 -- The White House has ordered meetings where federal health officials discussed the coronavirus to be classified, according to four Trump administration officials.
- Trump Threatens to Veto House-passed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Reforms VOA 12 Mar 2020 -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to change the way the FBI and National Security Agency use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct electronic surveillance of foreign nationals and agents in the United States. But President Donald Trump indicated Thursday that he might veto the bipartisan bill, saying he and his allies wanted more information about how the FBI's investigation of alleged ties between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia was launched.
- Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on House Legislation to Reauthorize the USA Freedom Act US Dept. of Justice 11 Mar 2020
- US House leaders reach deal to extend surveillance program Press TV 11 Mar 2020 -- Democratic and Republican leaders of the US House of Representatives have reached an agreement that would extend a controversial set of government surveillance tools.
- American Professor Pleads Guilty in Connection with China Work VOA 10 Mar 2020 -- A former West Virginia University physics professor has pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in connection with his work for one of China's premier foreign talent recruitment programs, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
- Report: US Intelligence Says Taliban Plan to Break Peace Deal VOA 06 Mar 2020 -- A U.S. media outlet reported Friday that the U.S. government had intelligence that the Taliban did not plan to abide by promises they made in the recent peace agreement with the United States.
- US Accuses Russia of Spreading Fear, Panic on Coronavirus VOA 05 Mar 2020 -- The United States is accusing Russia of opening up its entire disinformation playbook to prey on growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus.
- FBI Arrests Military Translator on Espionage Charges VOA 04 Mar 2020 -- An American military translator based in Iraq has been arrested and charged with passing the names of intelligence assets to a Lebanese national with suspected ties to the Hezbollah terror group, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
- Defense Department Linguist Charged with Espionage US Dept. of Justice 04 Mar 2020 -- Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was charged today in the District of Columbia with transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national with apparent connections to Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization that has been so designated by the Secretary of State.
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