I may eventually comment on the astonishing character assassination of the deceased Dr.Gareth Williams, who may have worked for GCHQ on secondment to MI6 / SIS.
Have a look at WikiSpooks for a partial roundup of the lurid tabloid press and media coverage and some of the conspiracy theories regarding this as yet unexplained death.
The release from prison of convicted former MI6 / SIS computer technician and incompetent wannabe spy Daniel Houghton, after only being held on remand for 184 days is a scandal, especially when compared with the earlier case of Corporal Daniel James, who is serving 10 years in prison:
|Daniel James||Daniel Houghton|
|Criminal Charges||Convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 section 1 - communicating information that was "calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy"
According to the blog of Michael Smith, who is trying to challenge his own conviction under the Official Secrets Act, for passing on secrets to the KGB during the Cold War
Statement from officer M. Head of the intelligence at ISAF/NATO in Afghanistan in 2006. (M at B79) 'The references contained in the text of the emails do not in themselves provide any great cause for concern in terms of the information they impart. They appear to be comments that may have been overheard and possibly misunderstood by the author who appears to have a rather exaggerated sense of his/her importance. I know of no damage to NATO - ISAF or UK operations that would be caused solely on account of the content of these emails. "Job is black" could possibly be a reference to Special Forces operation but doubt it. Alamara has been at some time a UK military base (it was in the south). It is not in the north Iran/Iraq border.'
Given a sentence of 10 years in prison
Two charges involving alleged CDROM and USB memory stick documents the jury did not come to a verdict on.
|"Between September 1, 2007 and May 31, 2009, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, you stole property, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, belonging to the British Security Service, contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968."
[No evidence offered by the prosecution]
"On March 1, 2010, within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, being a person who has been a member of the security and intelligence services, without lawful authority you disclosed articles relating to security or intelligence, namely a number of electronic files containing techniques for intelligence collection, which were in your possession by virtue of your position as a former member of the British Secret Intelligence Service, contrary to section 1(1) Official Secrets Act 1989"
Plead guilty - sentenced to only 12 months in prison, but freed immediately !
|Nationality||Born in Iran, naturalised British citizen||Born in the Netherlands, dual Netherlands and UK citizenship|
|special skills and access||Pashtun language translator attached to senior British Army General in Afghanistan||former MI6 Secret Intelligence Service technical computer employee with a "top marks" degree in Computer Interactive Systems|
|Communications Data Traffic security||None - bland, unencrypted public emails to the Military Attache at the Iranian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan - it would be a major scandal if these were not being routinely intercepted || no email reported|
Used his own mobile (?) phone
to contact the
Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD)
in the Netherlands, using his own name
|Smuggling of documents from secure buildings|| USB memory|
- found in his baggage (when on his way back to a tour of duty from the UK to Afghanistan) and shared military quarters
|USB memory and camera flash memory devices|
Portable hard disk
|Money||no|| £2 million asked for, £900,000 in cash handed over to him during the "sting" arrest|
|Use of Encryption||no|| astonishingly for a former employee of an intelligence agency with a computing degree - none !|
|Dead Letter Drops||None.
Handed over USB memory devices, CD, portable hard disk etc. in a London hotel room. Told his "sting" contacts that he had left a USB device at his mother's address in Deorset Subsequent searches also found a USB device at his own home.
| Clandestine face to face meetings with handlers||none - neither in Afghanistan nor back in the United Kingdom|| Meetings in Holland with AVD and in London hotel in the "sting" arrest|
|Prison sentence|| Currently serving 10 years in prison|| Held for 184 days on Remand, already released from prison immediately after being sentenced to only 12 months in prison|
|Potential risk to UK national security||Minimal||Substantial - "The judge told Houghton: 'You were employed by the security services and attempted to sell secret material for very large sums of money.
'In particular you attempted to sell staff lists which would have disclosed the identity and homes and whereabouts of agents whose identity must be protected almost at all costs.
'If the material had found its way into the hands of a hostile power it would have done enormous damage and put lives at risk."
|Actual damage to UK security||None||Slight - the Netherlands intelligence service must now be privy to some or all of the MI5 / MI6 staff list details etc.|
|A success for UK Counter Intelligence and Security procedures ?||No - the tip off / accusation appear to have come from the United States||No - the UK authorities knew nothing about it until the Dutch tipped them off.|