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  • India’s Nuclear Scientists Keep Dying Mysteriously (2013)

    Indian nuclear scientists haven’t had an easy time of it over the past decade. Not only has the scientific community been plagued by “suicides”, unexplained deaths and sabotage, but those incidents have gone mostly underreported in the country, diluting public interest and leaving the cases quickly cast off by police.

    Last month, two high-ranking engineers – KK Josh and Abhish Shivam – on India’s first nuclear-powered submarine were found on railway tracks by workers. They were pulled from the line before a train could crush them, but were already dead. No marks were found on the bodies, so it was clear they hadn’t been hit by a moving train, and reports allege they were poisoned elsewhere before being placed on the tracks to make the deaths look either accidental or like a suicide. The media and the Ministry of Defence, however, described the incident as a routine accident and didn’t investigate any further.

    This is the latest in a long list of suspicious deaths. When nuclear scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam’s body turned up in June of 2009, it was palmed off as a suicide and largely ignored by the Indian media. However, Pakistani outlets – perhaps unsurprisingly, given relations between the two countries – kept the story going, noting how quick authorities were to label the death a suicide considering no note was left.

    Five years earlier, in the same forest where Mahalingham’s body was eventually discovered, an armed group with sophisticated weaponry allegedly tried to abduct an official from India’s Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC). He, however, managed to escape. Another NPC employee, Ravi Mule, had been murdered weeks before, with police failing to “make any headway” into his case and effectively leaving his family to investigate the crime. A couple of years later, in April of 2011, when the body of former scientist Uma Rao was found, authorities ruled the death as suicide, but family members contested the verdict, saying there had been no signs that Rao was suicidal.

    Trombay, the site of India’s first atomic reactor. (Photo via)

    This seems to be a recurring theme with deaths in the community. Madhav Nalapat, one of the few journalists in India giving the cases any real attention, has been in close contact with the families of the recently deceased scientists left on the train tracks. “There was absolutely no kind of depression or any family problems that would lead to suicide,” he told me over the phone.

    If the deaths of those in the community aren’t classed as suicide, they’re generally labelled as “unexplained”. A good example is the case of M Iyer, who was found with internal haemorrhaging to his skull – possibly the result of a “kinky experiment”, according to a police officer. After a preliminary look-in, the police couldn’t work out how Iyer had suffered internal injuries while not displaying any cuts or bruises, and investigations fizzled out.

    This label is essentially admission of defeat on the police force’s part. Once the “unexplained” rubber stamp has been approved, government bodies don’t tend to task the authorities with investigating further. This may be a necessity due to the stark lack of evidence available at the scene of the deaths – a feature that some suggest could indicate the work of professional killers – but if this is the case, why not bring in better trained detectives to investigate the cases? A spate of deaths in the nuclear scientific community would create a media storm and highly publicised police investigation in other countries, so why not India?

    This inertia has led to great public dissatisfaction with the Indian police. “[The police] say it’s an unsolved murder – that’s all. Why doesn’t it go higher? Perhaps to a specialist investigations unit?” Madhav asked. “These people were working on the submarine programme – creating a reactor – and have either ‘committed suicide’ or been murdered. It’s astonishing that this hasn’t been seen as suspicious.”

    Perhaps, I suggested, this series of deaths is just the latest chapter in a long campaign aiming to derail India’s nuclear and technological capabilities. Madhav agreed: “There is a clear pattern of this type of activity going on,” he said.

    INS Sindhurakshak (Photo via)

    The explosions that sunk INS Sindhurakshak – a submarine docked in Mumbai – in August of this year could have been deliberate, according to unnamed intelligence sources. And some have alleged that the CIA was behind the sabotage of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

    Of course, the deaths have caused fear and tension among those currently working on India’s various nuclear projects. “[Whistleblowers] are getting scared of being involved in the nuclear industry in India,” Madhav relayed to me. Their “families are getting very nervous about this” and “many of them leave for foreign countries and get other jobs”.

    There are parallels here with the numerous attacks on the Iranian nuclear scientist community. Five people associated with the country’s nuclear programme have been targeted in the same way: men on motorcycles sticking magnetic bombs on to their cars and detonating them as they drive off. However, the Iranian government are incredibly vocal in condemning these acts – blaming the US and Israel – and at least give the appearance that they are actively investigating.

    The same cannot be said for the Indian government. “India is not making any noise about the whole thing,” Madhav explained. “People have just accepted the police version, [which describes these incidents] as normal kinds of death.”

    If the deaths do, in fact, turn out to be premeditated murders, deciding who’s responsible is pure speculation at this point. Two authors have alleged that the US have dabbled in sabotaging the country’s technological efforts in the past; China is in a constant soft-power battle with India; and the volatile relationship with Pakistan makes the country a prime suspect. “It could be any of them,” Madhav said.

    But the most pressing issue isn’t who might be behind the murders, but that the Indian government’s apathy is potentially putting their high-value staff at even greater risk. Currently, these scientists – who are crucial to the development of India’s nuclear programmes, whether for energy or security – have “absolutely no protection at all – nothing, zero”, Madhav told me. “Which is amazing for people who are in a such a sensitive programme.”

    By Joseph Cox Nov 25 2013

    Find this story at 25 November 2013

    © 2013 Vice Media Inc

    Mysterious deaths, freedom of information, Marconi and the Ministry of Defence (2006)

    Under the Freedom of Information [FOI] Act publicly-funded organisations have 20 working days to answer or notify the applicant if they need more time to answer. Some organisations with well managed records answer more quickly than others but none has been quite as slow as the Ministry of Defence. Its first response to my FOI request came more than six months later.

    And there was no acknowledgment of my application, although this is a legal requirement.

    I had asked about the mysterious deaths of computer programmers and scientists, some working for Marconi, some for other defence contractors, and others for the MoD and the government communications headquarters GCHQ.

    The 25 deaths in the 1970s and 1980s led to countless articles in many countries around the world, including France, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Australia. Separate TV documentaries were made by crews in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The MoD’s press officers received countless calls from journalists about the deaths; and Lord Weinstock, the then managing director of GEC, one of the government’s biggest defence contractors and at that time Marconi’s parent company, set up an inquiry.

    It was carried out by Brian Worth, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at New Scotland Yard. He concluded that “on the evidence available that the suicide verdicts reached were credible on their own facts, and in the four cases where open verdicts were returned the probability is that each victim took his own life”.

    One of the Marconi computer programmers, from London, had gone to Bristol where he tied his neck to a tree and apparently drove off in his car. Less than three months earlier another Marconi programmer from London had travelled by car to Bristol where he apparently jumped off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Police stopped the cremation of his body as the service was taking place, to investigate further.

    Letters to the coroner from the dead man’s friends were unanimous in their scepticism that the programmeer had committed suicide. Police found a tiny puncture mark on the man’s left buttock.

    The local coroner alluded to a possible “James Bond” link. He said: “As James Bond would say, ’this is past coincidence,’ and I will not be completing the inquest today until I know how two men with no connection with Bristol came to meet the same end here.” He did not discover why.

    The two dead programmers had been working on highly sensitive projects for the government.

    If the MoD had been so swamped with information that it could not answer my FOI request quickly, this would have explained its late reply. In fact the poor official who spoke to me had spent months looking for material and found nothing at all. Not one piece of paper. The official reply was that the MoD has no recorded information on any of the cases I had mentioned. So much for the ministry’s record-keeping.

    It was as if the deaths had never happened.

    By Ted Ritter on November 29, 2006 9:40 AM | 2 Comments

    Find this story at 29 November 2006

    © www.computerweekly.com

    Scientists` Deaths Mystify British (1988)

    LONDON — In this trench-coated city, where real-life stories of spies and moles and double agents often rival the best fiction, the peculiar deaths of nine British defense scientists in the last 20 months have stirred suspicions that the cases might be connected-and that espionage might be involved.

    Those who have studied the deaths-among them opposition politicians, a Cambridge University counterintelligence specialist and some investigative journalists-are loathe to draw any definitive conclusions, because the evidence, although intriguing, is scant.

    But they do believe that the seemingly isolated cases bear enough connections and similarities to at least warrant a government investigation into whether some terrorist group or foreign government is involved.

    The Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, however, insists that the deaths, most of them apparent suicides, are mere coincidences, at best attributable to the unusually high stresses associated with secret defense research.

    “The idea that they might have been bumped off by foreign agents is just straight out of James Bond,“ scoffed a Defense Ministry spokesman.

    To be sure, the facts would seem to be the stuff of a crackerjack spy novel. Five of the dead scientists worked at classified laboratories of the Marconi electronics company, a defense subsidiary of General Electric Corp. that happens to be the subject of an ongoing fraud investigation into alleged overcharges on government contracts.

    Several of the scientists reportedly were working on top-secret research into submarine detection and satellite defenses related to the “Star Wars“

    antimissile program. Marconi has declined to comment on their fates.

    While some of the deaths appeared to be suicides, circumstances surrounding others were decidedly bizarre. One Marconi computer scientist, Vimal Dajibhai, 24, plunged to his death from a Bristol bridge in August, 1986. He was found with his pants lowered around his ankles and a tiny puncture wound in his left buttock.

    The Bristol coroner returned an open verdict in the case, and the puncture wound, according to a coroner`s spokesman, “was a mystery then and remains a mystery now.“

    Another Marconi scientist, Ashad Sharif, 26, was found inside his car in October, 1986. He was nearly decapitated, with one end of a rope tied around a tree and the other end around his neck.

    The coroner ruled the death a suicide. But Computer News, a weekly London publication that first drew attention to the series of scientists` deaths, reported that a relative summoned to identify the body said he saw a long metal shaft lying on the floor of the car, near the accelerator pedal. The shaft, the relative said, could have been used to wedge down the accelerator. A third Marconi scientist, David Sands, 37, was killed in March, 1987, when his car-containing two full gasoline cans in the trunk-slammed into the wall of a building. Sands` body was burned beyond recognition, with identification made from dental records. The coroner in the case returned an open verdict, ruling that there was neither sufficient evidence of suicide nor of foul play.

    What has complicated the arguments of those who would dismiss the espionage theories as mere fantasy is the fact that stranger things have actually happened in Britain.

    Ten years ago, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident who broadcast anticommunist programs on the British Broadcasting Corp. world radio network, was murdered when an unknown assassin, presumed to be a Bulgarian spy, jabbed him in the leg with an umbrella.

    The umbrella carried a microscopic pellet laced with a deadly poison that killed Markov within a few days but left no trace in his bloodstream. The pellet is on display at Scotland Yard`s famed Black Museum.

    The British have had a more recent reminder of the spies among them every Sunday for the last month, courtesy of the venerable Sunday Times. The paper has been carrying a serialized interview with Harold (Kim) Philby, the infamous Soviet KGB double agent who managed to infiltrate the highest levels of Britain`s intelligence service 30 years ago and betray the entire Western alliance.

    It is knowledge of such history that leads Randall Heather, a counterintelligence researcher at St. Edmund`s College, Cambridge, to at least entertain the possibility that the Soviets are capable of a sophisticated attack on Britain`s defense scientists.

    “I restrain myself from engaging in conspiracy mania,“ said Heather.

    “But it is possible that we are seeing a very quiet type of terrorism here, directed at very specific targets. It is possibly an attempt to intimidate the small group of scientists who work in these fields.

    “These are not normal types of accidents and suicides. These are not normal types of people who are dying.“

    The most recent death did appear to be a “normal“ suicide. On March 25, the body of a Marconi computer scientist, Trevor Knight, was found in his car inside his garage, with a hose connected to the exhaust. A coroner`s inquest ruled that Knight, 52, committed suicide and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    But normal or not, Knight`s case prompted a call in the British Parliament for an official government inquiry into the scientists` deaths.

    “Some of these cases are very, very strange indeed,“ said Douglas Hoyle, a Labor Party member of Parliament who is pressing for the government inquiry.

    “I mean, does anyone really commit suicide with his trousers halfway down? What was the mark on (Dajibhai`s) buttock? A lot of these deaths just don`t look like ordinary suicides. The question is: is there some common element?“

    April 17, 1988|By Howard Witt, Chicago Tribune.

    Find this story at 17 April 1988

    © www.chicagotribune.com

    A British Mystery: 4 Defense Scientists Dead And 1 Missing (1987)

    LONDON — Even considered individually, the mysterious and brutal deaths cry out for attention.

    Vimal Dajibhai plunged 250 feet from a suspension bridge in southwest England, 100 miles from home, in August. When his body was discovered on the hard ground below, small, unexplained puncture marks were found on his buttocks.

    A month later, Ashad Sharif died after he looped one end of a rope around his neck, attached the other end to a tree, got into the driver’s seat of his car and sped away.

    Then at the end of March, David Sands loaded his car with cans of gasoline and drove it at 80 miles an hour into an abandoned roadside cafe south of London, where it exploded in a fireball so furious that his body had to be identified by dental records.

    Considered together, the deaths of these young, apparently well-established professional men share some disturbing characteristics that many in Britain say cry out for explanation.

    All were defense researchers working for the sprawling Marconi organization, a major electronics defense contractor. All three were involved in sensitive, defense-related projects. All apparently were suicides, although in none of the cases has a convincing motive been advanced, and there were no witnesses to any of the deaths.

    These deaths – along with the unexplained death in February of a fourth defense scientist and the disappearance in January of yet another – have caused no end of speculation and concern in the tightly knit, highly secretive world of defense research.

    “I do not wish to be accused of inventing plots more suited to a television thriller than real life,” said John Cartwright, parliamentary defense spokesman for the opposition Liberal-Social Democratic alliance. ”But I think the circumstances of these . . . cases and the possible links between them stretch the possibility of coincidence too far.”

    But the government has steadfastly resisted Cartwright’s calls for an official inquiry, contending that there is no evidence of a conspiracy.

    “I agree that it is odd that all three were computer scientists working in the defense field,” said Lord Trefgarne, the junior defense minister, “but there any relationship stops.”


    Marconi, which employed Dajibhai, Sharif and Sands before their deaths, said an internal investigation disclosed no connection among the three men.

    “We employ 35,000 people in 18 separate sister companies,” said a spokesman. “These individuals were working on separate programs for separate companies at separate locations.”

    And yet many questions remain unanswered. Why should Dajibhai and Sharif die in Bristol, a city far away from their homes and with which they had no apparent connection?

    Why should Avtar Singh-Gida, a Ph.D. student working on a Ministry of Defense-funded project at Loughborough University in central England, disappear without a trace in January two days before his wedding anniversary, when he had already bought his wife a gift and a card?

    Tony Collins, a reporter who has investigated the incidents for the weekly Computer News, says that his work has led him to conclude that the three Marconi scientists were all involved in a narrow field of underwater-simula tion projects, an area in which he says Britain leads the world.

    “I have no evidence to link them at the moment, but I believe there is a case for investigation,” Collins said in an interview. “The government probably feels there’s not enough evidence. It wouldn’t be like the British to rush into an inquiry.”

    Others have raised questions about the fact that the names of two of the men who died and the one who is missing – Dajibhai, Sharif and Gida – indicate that they are from the Indian subcontinent or are of Indian origin.

    “I’m very suspicious of this. For a fluke there’s too much in it,” Andreas Fingeraut, a defense economist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said in an interview.

    “Some of the top computer programmers in the U.K. happen to be people of Indian descent. They have specialized in it and are very good,” he said.

    “I’m not saying they’re a security risk, but maybe somebody, somewhere thought they were.”

    Others who may not believe in a conspiracy theory have suggested that the deaths and disappearance could be saying something else: that the world of high-technology defense research has become so competitive that it is driving some of its youngest and brightest workers to suicide.

    “People in the defense industry are under tremendous pressure all the time. Competition is tough. The pressure is on for people to come up with new ideas,” said Anthony Watts, who writes about maritime defense research for a publication called Navy International, based in Surrey, England.

    “The question of whom you can talk to about your work, and how much you can say is uppermost in people’s minds,” he continued. “It’s a strain on people’s families. Perhaps in the end, some of them crack up.”

    Martin Stott, Cartwright’s aide in Parliament, also brought up that theme in an interview last week.

    “We wonder whether there was something about the work they were doing that might force them to come out and take their lives. Maybe we’re putting too much pressure on these people,” he said.

    Yet those looking for some theme, some reason behind the deaths and disappearance, are finding it difficult to know where to begin.

    The first death was reported on Aug. 5, when Dajibhai, 24, was found in the gorge below Clifton Bridge near Bristol. Marconi officials say he worked for Marconi Underwater Systems at Watford, near London, as a junior software engineer checking torpedo-guidance systems. It is not known why he traveled so far from his home in London.

    The police inquest into his death returned an open verdict, meaning that it could not be determined whether he was killed, died accidentally or committed suicide.

    But in the March 5 edition of Computer News, Collins reported that Dajibhai’s family was not satisfied with the police investigation. And people familiar with the case said that Dajibhai seemed happy, had just purchased a new suit and new shoes, and was looking forward to beginning a new career in London’s financial district.

    Although Sharif’s death officially was ruled a suicide, many believe it is just as puzzling. Sharif, 26, worked on electronic test equipment as a computer analyst with Marconi Defence Systems at Stanmore, north of London.

    Police in Bristol said that a tape recording found in his car lent support to the verdict that he took his own life. But Collins quoted a member of Sharif’s family who contends that the taped message had “nothing to do with death.”

    Sands, 36, was employed by a Marconi subsidiary, Easams Ltd., when he drove his car at high speed into the roadside restaurant in the early morning of March 31. A coroner’s ruling on his death is expected next month.

    Police were reported to have said that he was depressed and had argued with his wife, but others said Sands had just returned from a vacation in Venice with his wife and showed no signs of depression.

    Marconi officials contend that Sands’ work, although classified, had nothing to do with underwater research. But that certainly was the area of expertise for Gida, 26, who was working on an unclassified government-funded contract on sonar transmission.

    He was last seen Jan. 8, when he and a colleague were testing acoustic equipment at a reservoir near the University at Loughborough. Both men went for separate lunches, and Gida did not return. Police are still investigating his disappearance.

    Dajibhai and Gida lived in the same building at Loughborough University when they both were students, and a Marconi spokesman said they were “nodding acquaintances.” But there is no evidence to link the others.

    The mystery appeared to deepen last weekend, when police in Oxfordshire reported details of the death of Peter Peapell, 46, a lecturer at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham and a former Defense Ministry employee.

    He was found dead Feb. 22 under the car in the garage at his home. The car engine was running and the garage door was shut, but an inquest returned an open verdict, which means it could not determine whether Peapell’s death was murder, suicide or an accident.

    Yet even those who are searching for some link among these deaths are cautious about adding Peapell’s name to the list. He did not work for Marconi, nor was he involved in underwater research. “I’m rather wary of lumping all these people together,” said Stott, Cartwright’s aide.

    Still, Peapell’s death notice seemed to add to the sense of unknown permeating all these cases. Stott and others believe the only way to clear the air is through an official inquiry.

    “It may well be that this is all coincidence, a series of mysterious but isolated incidents,” he said. “But it is very strange, and we ought to get to the bottom of it.”

    By Jane Eisner, Inquirer Staff Writer
    Posted: April 12, 1987

    Find this story at 12 April 1987

    © http://articles.philly.com

    Police Confirm Death Of Fifth Scientist Under Unusual Circumstances (1987)

    LONDON (AP) _ Police on Sunday confirmed the death of a metallurgist involved in secret defense work – the fifth such case in the past eight months in which authorities have been unable to establish the cause of death.

    A sixth scientist, a research expert on submarine warfare equipment at the University of Loughborough, vanished in January.

    The government has rejected opposition demands for an investigation, saying there was ”no evidence of any link (in the deaths) at this stage.” But Home Secretary Douglas Hurd has ordered police involved in the individual cases to contact each other about the deaths.

    John Cartwright, the defense spokesman for the centrist Liberal-Social Democratic Party alliance, renewed his call for an inquiry by the governing Conservative Party following Sunday’s confirmation of the metallurgist’s death.

    Even if all the cases were suicides, he said, ”it must raise some question about the pressures under which scientists are working in the defense field.”

    Police in Thames Valley confirmed Sunday that Peter Peapell, 46, a lecturer at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham near Swindon, died on Feb. 22 from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    An inquest returned an open verdict, making no ruling on the cause of death. Police said Peapell was found underneath his car in the garage of his home. The car’s engine was running and the garage door was shut, according to the report. His wife told reporters he was happy and had no reason to commit suicide.

    Cartwright said he believed there were ”grounds for concern” and urged police to reinvestigate Peapell’s ”worrying” death.

    Last Monday, David Sands, 37, a computer expert at a subsidiary of the British defense contractor Marconi Co. Ltd., was killed when he drove his car, loaded with gasoline cans, into an abandoned cafe in Surrey.

    Press Association, Britain’s domestic news agency, said Sands had just completed three years’ work on a secret air defense radar system for the Royal Air Force at Easams, a subsidiary of Marconi and part of Britain’s giant General Electric Company.

    Last year, two other Marconi scientists also died.

    Vimal Dajibhai, 24, a programmer with Marconi Underwater Systems who reportedly was working on Britain’s self-guided torpedo Stingray missile, was found dead last August beneath a suspension bridge spanning the River Avon in Bristol, western England.

    Relatives and friends testified he had no reason to commit suicde and an inquest returned an open verdict.

    Ashad Sharif, 26, a computer expert with Marconi Defense Systems, died near Bristol in October. A police report said he apparently tied one end of a rope to a tree, the other around his neck, got into his car and drove off, strangling himself. An inquest returned a verdict of suicide.

    Richard Pugh, a computer design expert, was found dead in his home in Essex in January. The circumstance of his death have never been explained.

    A seventh scientist, Avtar Singh-Gida, 26, disappeared in January in northern England while conducting experiments on underwater acoustics. His disappearance is still under police investigation.

    AP , Associated Press
    Apr. 5, 1987 11:34 PM ET

    Find this story at 5 April 1987

    © 2013 The Associated Press.

    PMO unconcerned about scientist deaths (2013)

    Scientists working in BARC have been particularly liable to ‘suicides’ and murders.

    hile there has been substantial international media comment on the unnatural deaths of several scientists working in Iran’s nuclear program, similar attention has not been paid to the (much larger) number of unnatural deaths that have taken place of scientists and engineers working in India’s own nuclear program. The latest casualties were discovered on 7 October, when the bodies of K.K. Josh and Abhish Shivam were discovered near the railway tracks at Penduruthy near Vishakapatnam Naval Yard. The two were engineers connected with the building of India’s indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, Arihant. They had apparently been poisoned and their bodies placed on the tracks to make it seem like an accident. However, they were discovered by a passer-by before a train could pass over the bodies. In any other country, the murder of two engineers connected to a crucial strategic program would have created a media storm. However, the deaths of the two were passed off both by the media as well as by the Ministry of Defence as a routine accident, with only the ordinary police officer tasked with investigations into the cause of death. The inquiries went nowhere.

    Scientists working in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have been particularly liable to “suicides” and murders, with several being reported during the past five years. In each case, the unnatural death in question gets passed off as either a suicide or an unexplained killing. This far, there has been no report of the police having identified any of the perpetrators of the murders of personnel whose brainpower has been crucial to the success of several key programs. On 23 February 2010, M. Iyer, an engineer at BARC, was found dead in his residence. The killer had used a duplicate key to enter the house and strangle the engineer in his sleep. Interestingly, efforts were made by some of the investigating police officers to pass the death off as a suicide. Finally, the Mumbai police decided to register a case of murder. However, as is usual in such cases, no arrests were made and the investigation ran into a stonewall. Forensics experts say that in all such unexplained deaths of scientists and engineers involved in the nuclear program, fingerprints are absent, as also other telltale clues that would assist the police in identifying the culprit. These indicate a high degree of professionalism behind the murders, such as can be found in top-flight intelligence agencies of the type that have been so successful in killing Iranian scientists and engineers active in that country’s nuclear program.

    Unlike Iran, however, which now protects its key personnel, thus far the Government of India has not taken any appreciable steps to protect the lives of those active in core strategic programs relating to the country’s nuclear deterrent.

    While it is true that at least one of the unnatural deaths — that of former BARC scientists Uma Rao on 29 April, 2011 — seems to be a case of suicide, the other suicide verdicts are challenged by the families of the deceased engineers and scientists, who say that there was no indication that their loved ones were contemplating such an extreme step. What is surprising is the inattention of the Government of India towards what many believe to be a systematic outside effort to slow down India’s march towards nuclear excellence by killing those involved in the process. Such a modus operandi differs from that followed in the case of the cryogenic engine scandal in 1994, when key scientists working on the program to develop an indigenous cryogenic engine were picked up by the Intelligence Bureau and the Kerala police on false charges of espionage, together with two Maldivian women. The Bill Clinton administration had sought to scupper the Russian sale of such engines to India, but Russian scientists friendly to India had secretly handed over blueprints relating to the making of such engines. This soon became known to the CIA, which is believed to have orchestrated the plan to paralyse the program by sending its key scientists to prison. Although the charges were found to be entirely false, that vindication took a decade to come about, and in the process, the Indian program was slowed down by an equivalent number of years. Thus far, none of the IB or Kerala police officers who acted as the apparent catspaw of a foreign intelligence agency in slapping false charges on key scientists has suffered even a minor punishment, much less be arraigned for treason.

    According to the Government of India, over just a three-year period, there have been at least nine unnatural deaths of scientists and engineers at just BARC as well as the Kaiga nuclear facility, of which two have been categorised as suicide, with the rest unexplained in terms of bringing to book those responsible.

    MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi | 26th Oct 2013

    Find this story at 26 October 2013

    © sunday-guardian.com

    US defence contractor accused of passing on nuclear secrets

    Ex-army officer Benjamin Pierce Bishop charged with communicating national defence information to Chinese woman

    Benjamin Pierce Bishop, who works for a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, Hawaii, was arrested on Friday . Photograph: Alamy

    A US defence contractor in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of passing national military secrets, including classified information about nuclear weapons, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, authorities have said.

    Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former US army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, was arrested on Friday and made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, said the US attorney’s office for the District of Hawaii.

    He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to national defence. If convicted Bishop faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

    Bishop met the woman – a 27-year-old Chinese national referred to as Person 1 – in Hawaii during a conference on international military defence issues, according to the affidavit.

    He had allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship since June 2011 with the woman, who was living in the US on a visa and had no security clearance.

    From May 2011 until December 2012 he allegedly passed national defence secrets to her including classified information about nuclear weapons and the planned deployment of US strategic nuclear systems.

    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 March 2013 07.13 GMT

    Find this story at 19 March 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Another G4S nightmare: 82-year-old nun beats guards to break into nuclear facility

    Anti-nuclear protesters’ successful incursion expose security failings at uranium plant

    All operations remained suspended yesterday at the sole facility in the US for storing enriched uranium after the area was breached by three anti-nucl ear protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, exposing gaps in security provided by G4S, the same private company accused of bungling security arrangements for the Olympics.

    After cutting through three fences around Y-12, a Second World War-era nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the three activists, identified as Megan Rice, 82, Michael Wallis, 63 and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, got as far as the outer wall of the uranium building and allegedly daubed it with slogans and splashed it with human blood.

    A spokeswoman for WSI Oak Ridge, which is contracted by the Energy Department to keep intruders out of the highly sensitive complex, declined to respond to questions yesterday. The company is a subsidiary of the international security firm G4S which acknowledged shortly before the London Games that it had been unable to assemble sufficient numbers of staff to keep them safe, forcing the Government to deploy Army troops.

    While the incursion has served once again to embarrass G4S, a spokesman for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance said that was not the original purpose of the successful protest. “It wasn’t so they could show how easy it was to bust into this bomb plant, it was because the production of nuclear weapons violates everything that is moral and good,” Ralph Hutchinson told Reuters. “It is a war crime.”

    The three perpetrators, who seemingly wandered within the perimeter fences of Y-12 for two hours before reaching the key storage building, have been charged with “vandalism and criminal trespass”. They were due to appear before a judge in Tennessee later last night for a bail hearing. They are expected to face trial in early October.

    All questions to WSI were being referred to Steve Wyatt, spokesman of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is part of the Energy Department. “We’re taking this very, very seriously,” he said, confirming that the trio had cut through two chain link fences on the edge of Y-12 and a third fence closer to the structure where they left the slogans known as the “Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility”.

    Find this story at 4 August 2012

    David Usborne

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