Die BND-Affäre und die Schweiz: BND und NSA sollen Swisscom-Kunden ausspioniert haben

Der deutsche Geheimdienst BND habe Daten aus der Schweiz an die NSA weitergeleitet: Das sagt ein österreichischer Politiker gestützt auf neu aufgetauchte Dokumente.
KOMMENTARE
Der österreichische Grünen-Politiker Peter Pilz präsentiert in mehreren europäischen Städten Enthüllungen über Spionagepraktiken der NSA – am Mittwoch auch in Bern.
Der österreichische Grünen-Politiker Peter Pilz präsentiert in mehreren europäischen Städten Enthüllungen über Spionagepraktiken der NSA – am Mittwoch auch in Bern. (Bild: Imago)
Der Abhörskandal um den deutschen Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) und die amerikanische NSA betreffe auch Schweizer Privatpersonen und Firmen. Das sagt Peter Pilz, grüner Abgeordneter im österreichischen Nationalrat, gestützt auf angebliche Geheimdokumente. Am Mittwoch präsentierte Pilz die Dokumente in Bern – zusammen mit der Co-Präsidentin und dem Fraktionschef der Schweizer Grünen, Regula Rytz und Balthasar Glättli.

Mit den Dokumenten glaubt Pilz belegen zu können, dass der BND Internetdaten aus der Schweiz ausspioniert und an die NSA weitergeleitet habe. Passiert sei das im Rahmen der «Operation Eikonal», die deutsche Medien im Oktober 2014 publik gemacht haben. Neu ist jetzt der Bezug zur Schweiz. Pilz präsentierte eine mit vielen technischen Details versehene Liste von über 250 Daten-Transitleitungen durch Deutschland. Dabei handle es sich um eine Prioritätenliste jener Leitungen, die der BND zwischen 2004 und 2008 im Auftrag der NSA ausgespäht habe. Neun der 250 Transitleitungen kommen aus der Schweiz und führen nach Prag, Sydney, Tokio, Seoul, Luxemburg, Warschau und Moskau. Auf Schweizer Seite wurden diese Leitungen laut Liste von der Swisscom betrieben. In Frankfurt, wo sich der grösste Internetknotenpunkt der Welt befindet, soll die deutsche Telekom dem BND Zugriff gewährt haben. Der BND habe die Daten an die NSA weitergegeben, gestützt auf ein Memorandum aus dem Jahr 2002.

Grüne planen Strafanzeige

Wenn die Liste authentisch ist, wäre die Schweiz eines von 64 Ländern, die vom BND/NSA-Lauschangriff betroffen wären. Der Zugriff auf die Leitungen stützt sich laut Pilz auf einen Vertrag zwischen BND und deutscher Telekom von 2004. Diesen Vertrag hat Pilz vor ein paar Tagen in Österreich veröffentlicht. Der Vertrag regelt die Aufklärung von «kabelgestützten leitungs- und paketvermittelten Fernmeldeverkehren, die ihren Ursprung und ihr Ziel nicht in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland haben (‹Transit›)». Über die Herkunft der Dokumente äussert Pilz sich unter Berufung auf den Quellenschutz nicht. Er habe ihre Echtheit jedoch zweifelsfrei verifiziert, sagt Pilz. In Österreich ist der 61-Jährige eine bekannte Grösse. Seit über 20 Jahren gehört er dem Parlament an. Einerseits ist er wegen seiner Streitbarkeit umstritten, andererseits ist er über die Parteigrenzen hinaus respektiert für Verdienste bei der Aufdeckung mehrerer Skandale – etwa bei der Eurofighter- und der Lucona-Affäre.

Im Unterschied zu anderen Grünen – notabene auch zu vielen Schweizer Grünen – hält Pilz Nachrichtendienste und Armee grundsätzlich für notwendig. Warum er sich trotzdem gegen die flächendeckende Überwachung wehrt, begründet Pilz ironisch mit einem Zitat der deutschen Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel: «Ausspähen unter Freunden – das geht gar nicht.» Derzeit befindet sich Pilz mit seinen Geheimdokumenten auf einem Medien-Marathon durch Europa. In Wien und Berlin ist er bereits vor den Medien aufgetreten; ein weiterer Auftritt ist in Brüssel geplant.

Den Schweizer Grünen spielt Pilz damit einen politischen Steilpass in der Debatte um das Nachrichtendienstgesetz zu, das der Ständerat am 11. Juni berät. Das Gesetz soll dem Schweizer Nachrichtendienst genau das erlauben, was der BND in Frankfurt gemacht haben soll: die Kabelaufklärung. Die Grünen bekämpfen diese Kompetenzausweitung für den Nachrichtendienst. Sie verlangen auch, dass «die offizielle Schweiz» gegenüber den deutschen Behörden dezidiert auf die mutmassliche Ausspionierung reagiere. Zudem bereitet die Partei laut Glättli vorsorglich eine Strafanzeige bei der Bundesanwaltschaft wegen Spionage vor.

«Keine Garantien abgeben»

Die Swisscom erklärt, sie habe von der möglichen Abhöraktion nur aus den Medien Kenntnis. Die Firma weist darauf hin, dass sie die Kommunikation nur innerhalb der Schweiz schützen könne. «Swisscom kann deshalb für Daten, die das Swisscom-Netz verlassen, keine Garantien abgeben.» Die von Pilz erwähnten neun Leitungen «gehören gemäss unserem Kenntnisstand aktuell nicht uns», teilt die Swisscom mit. Um die Situation vor zehn Jahren zu klären, würde man weitere Angaben brauchen.

Der Nachrichtendienst des Bundes (NDB) reagiert mit einer generellen Stellungnahme. «Der NDB untersucht die Veröffentlichungen betreffend die nachrichtendienstlichen Aktivitäten technischer Natur von ausländischen Nachrichtendiensten, die potenzielle Zusammenhänge mit der Schweiz haben könnten», sagt eine Sprecherin sibyllinisch. Zurzeit seien Abklärungen im Gange, «um Verbindungen zu unserem Land zu prüfen». Präziser wollte die Sprecherin nicht werden.

von Markus Häfliger, Bern27.5.2015, 21:42 Uhr
Find this story at 27 May 2015

Copyright https://www.nzz.ch

Russian whistleblower: police accused of ignoring evidence

Row over unexplained Surrey death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, a key witness in fraud case of £140m in tax stolen from Russia

A security vehicle at the entrance to St George’s Hill private estate near Weybridge, Surrey in November, where Alexander Perepilichnyy died in mysterious circumstances. Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

Police and anti-fraud agencies have been criticised by the alleged victim of a multimillion-pound international fraud for ignoring dossiers of evidence – including death threats and intimidation – linking the crime with the UK, months before a witness connected to the case was found dead in unexplained circumstances.

The body of Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, was found outside his Surrey home on 10 November. His cause of death is described as “unexplained” following two postmortems, with further toxicology tests to come.

He was a key witness in a fraud case involving the theft of £140m in tax revenue from the Russian government. The alleged fraudsters are said to have stolen three companies from a UK-based investment firm, Hermitage Capital, and used them to perpetrate the fraud – leaving Hermitage in the frame for the criminal acts.

The case is known as the “Magnitsky case”, after one of Hermitage’s Russian lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, who was found dead in a Russian prison in 2009 with his body showing signs of torture.

A motion from the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe said Magnitsky had been “killed … while in pre-trial detention in Moscow after he refused to change his testimony”.

Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital, has been trying to secure convictions for the death of Magnitsky, as well as those implicated in the alleged fraud against his company, for four years.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that in January and February Browder’s lawyers passed a criminal complaint to the City of London police, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

The complaint alleged Britain had ties to the alleged criminal conspiracy from its earliest stages: a UK citizen, Stephen John Kelly, served as a nominee, or “sham” director, for British Virgin Islands-based offshore companies involved in liquidating the companies used to claim the allegedly fraudulent tax refunds. Separately, a crucial couriered package of evidence, used as a pretext to raid offices in Russia, was sent from UK soil.

And, significantly, the complaint alleged lawyers working in the UK for Hermitage on the case had been subject to death threats made by phone, and intimidation via surveillance of their offices.

Hermitage claim the alleged theft of the companies was carried out using documents taken from their offices during a police raid, then “representatives” of the companies engaged in an elaborate series of steps to secure a tax rebate of about £140m. The three firms, now with no assets and more than £600m of debts, were then sold on and liquidated via the British Virgin Islands.

The Conservative MP Dominic Raab wrote to the same police and anti-fraud agencies again in August also encouraging an investigation, after being contacted by Hermitage with respect to their complaints.

Raab had previously urged action in the House of Commons against individuals allegedly implicated in Magnitsky’s death, mirroring a US bill that was formally passed by the Senate on Thursday evening.

Raab also informed the Home Office last month that one of the alleged leaders of the Russian criminal gang had apparently travelled to the UK on two occasions in 2008, despite having previous convictions in relation to a multimillion-pound fraud, and asked them to investigate. He also passed details of 60 individuals allegedly involved in the plot to UK authorities to assist in monitoring of their movements.

Raab said the lack of information from any UK authorities was troubling.

“The first thing is, we don’t know about Perepilichnyy and his cause of death,” he said. “But we do know there was some sort of hit-list in Russia with his name on it and he’s obviously given evidence in these money-laundering proceedings.

“I think the key thing is the Home Office give the police all the support they can. At the moment, there’s a lack of transparency, it’s very difficult to know. We’ve got no idea if anything’s been actioned, or even how many people linked to the case have been travelling in and out of Britain. We just don’t know.”

City of London police said they had met Hermitage but had found no evidence of UK involvement in the alleged offences.

“Detectives met with the company’s solicitors and having reviewed the complaint concluded there was no evidence of criminality in the UK and would be taking no further action,” said a spokesman”.

The SFO, FSA and SOCA declined to comment, citing policies barring them from confirming or denying the existence of any specific investigations.

A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed they had been contacted by Raab and were looking into his queries, but said they did not comment on individual visa cases.

Surrey police have still been unable to establish a cause of death for Perepilichnyy, who collapsed and died outside his luxury home in Weybridge, Surrey. He had been out jogging, his wife Tatyana said, and was found in the street wearing shorts and trainers.

Perepilichnyy appears to have been part of the alleged criminal group but to have fallen out with other members of the syndicate. He fled to Britain three years ago, taking with him bank documents, details of Credit Suisse accounts and other evidence.

In the UK Perepilichnyy kept a low profile, with few Russians in the capital having heard of him. He passed a bundle of evidence to Hermitage Capital; Hermitage then handed the documents over to the Swiss police. As a result Swiss investigators closed down several accounts allegedly belonging to figures in the criminal gang.

Andrei Pavlov, a Russian lawyer, told Kommersant, Russia’s leading daily, that Perepilichnyy appeared exhausted and frightened during two meetings the men had last year. “He wanted to make peace with [ex-partner Vladlen] Stepanov,” the lawyer said. Pavlov did not respond to repeated requests for comment by the Guardian’s deadline.

Stepanov, and his ex-wife Olga Stepanova, are among those accused by Hermitage of taking part in a complex scheme to illegally funnel Russian taxes from companies once owned by Hermitage. Information released by Hermitage, and uncovered by Magnitsky, shows how Stepanova, the former head of a Moscow tax office, and her husband bought wildly expensive properties in Moscow, Montenegro and Dubai.

In a video interview with Vedomosti, a respected financial daily, in May 2011, Stepanov attempted to explain his personal wealth, which he claims was gained through investing the money he made in the 1990s from tunnel construction and optics. He called Browder’s investigations “fabricated facts”. “With these fabricated facts, they have blamed me for everything – that there is blood on my hands.”

He also said he had fallen out with Perepilichnyy, calling him a man with “many problems”.

“He ran away. He’s not here. He doesn’t answer the phone. He’s hiding. It’s like he doesn’t exist.” Perepilichnyy is believed to have fled to the UK after becoming unable to pay back debts amid the global financial crisis.

James Ball, Luke Harding and Miriam Elder
The Guardian, Sunday 9 December 2012 18.35 GMT

Find this story at 9 December 2012

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Fourth person involved in Russian fraud scheme found dead in UK

A Russian whistleblower who had been helping authorities in Western Europe investigate a gigantic money-laundering scheme involving Russian government officials, has been found dead in the United Kingdom. Alexander Perepilichnyy, who had been named by Swiss authorities as an indispensible informant in the so-called Hermitage Capital scandal, was found dead outside his home in Weybridge, Surrey, on November 10. The 44-year-old former businessman, who sought refuge in England in 2009, and had been living there ever since, is the fourth person linked to the money-laundering scandal to have died in suspicious circumstances. The company, Hermitage Capital Management, is a UK-based investment fund and asset-management company, which Western prosecutors believe fell victim to a massive $250 million fraud conspiracy perpetrated by Russian Interior Ministry officials who were aided by organized crime gangs. In 2006, the company’s British founders were denied entry to Russia, in what was seen by some as an attempt by the administration of Vladimir Putin to protect its officials involved in the money-laundering scheme. The scandal widened in late 2009, when Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had been arrested in connection with the case, died while in police custody. According to the coroner’s report, Magnitsky, who was 37 and in good physical health, died suddenly from acute heart failure at a Moscow detention facility. Some observers speculate that the lawyer was killed before he could turn into a whistleblower against some of the perpetrators of the fraud scheme. Following Magnitsky’s death, Alexander Perepilichnyy was elevated as a key witness in the case, after providing Swiss prosecutors with detailed intelligence naming several Russian government officials involved in the money-laundering scheme, as well as their criminal contacts outside Russia. This led to the freezing of numerous assets and bank accounts in several European countries. There is no word yet as to the cause of Perepilichnyy’s death. British investigators said yesterday that the first post-mortem examination had proved inconclusive and that a toxicological examination had been ordered for next week.

November 30, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis 3 Comments

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 30 November 2012

Top secret MI6 counter-terror intelligence feared stolen by disgruntled Swiss IT worker who walked out with millions of data files in backpack

Suspect walked out of Swiss intelligence service NDB with stolen data after becoming ‘disgruntled’ with his job
MI6 and CIA both warned secret information could have been compromised
Switzerland’s NDB security procedures now under scrutiny

MI6 intelligence on counter- terrorism operations may have been stolen by a rogue Swiss official, it emerged last night.

Security chiefs in the UK have been warned that hugely sensitive information they provided to the NDB, Switzerland’s spy agency, could have been ‘compromised’.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents were copied by a senior IT technician for the NDB, which he then copied for himself on to portable storage devices carrying them away in a backpack.

Warned: The Secret Intelligence Service, based in London (pictured), was warned top secret information may have been compromised by the data theft

Swiss officials believe the suspect intended to sell the stolen data and have alerted both MI6 and America’s CIA.

The information was shared between Britain, Switzerland and the United States and the CIA has also been warned about the risk.

The technician, whose name has not been made public, was arrested by Swiss authorities last summer.

He was later released from prison while a criminal investigation by the office of Switzerland’s Federal Attorney General continues.

A European security source said it is believed the IT worker became disgruntled when he felt his advice on operating the data systems was not being taken seriously.

The technician downloaded hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of printed pages of classified material from the Swiss intelligence service’s servers onto portable hard drives.

He then carried them out of government buildings in a backpack.

Investigators now believe warning signs were missed in the months leading to his arrest.

The source said that the suspect became so disgruntled earlier this year that he stopped showing up for work.

Share: MI6, headed by Sir John Sawers, pictured, regularly shares information with the CIA and Swiss intelligence service

He worked for the NDB – or Federal Intelligence Service, which is part of Switzerland’s Defense Ministry – for about eight years.

He was described by one source as a ‘very talented’ technician.

The worker also had ‘administrator rights’, which gave him unrestricted access to most or all of the NDB’s networks, including those holding vast caches of secret data.

Swiss investigators seized portable storage devices containing the stolen data after they arrested the suspect.

The information was impounded before he had an opportunity to sell it.

However, Swiss investigators could not be positive he did not manage to pass any of the information on before his arrest.

Representatives of U.S. and British intelligence agencies had no immediate response to detailed queries about the case submitted by news agency Reuters.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and a senior prosecutor, Carolo Bulletti, announced in September they were investigating the data theft and its alleged perpetrator.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general said she was prohibited by law from disclosing the suspect’s identity.

A spokesman for the NDB said he could not comment on the investigation.

Security procedures and structures at the NDB, which was set up relatively recently, have now come under increased scrutiny.

It conducts both foreign and domestic intelligence activities for the Swiss government.

Danger: The CIA, based in Virginia (pictured), was warned secret information may have been compromised

Human resources staff are currently linked within the organisation to the agency’s information technology division.

This potentially made it difficult or confusing for the subdivision’s personnel to investigate themselves, the source said.

Despite warning signs, Swiss news reports say the NDB did not realise something was amiss until the largest Swiss bank, UBS, expressed concern to authorities about a potentially suspicious attempt to set up a new numbered bank account, which then was traced to the NDB technician.

By Becky Evans and James Slack

PUBLISHED: 17:23 GMT, 4 December 2012 | UPDATED: 09:01 GMT, 5 December 2012

Find this story at 4 December 2012

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Swiss spy agency warns U.S., Britain about huge data leak

ZURICH (Reuters) – Secret information on counter-terrorism shared by foreign governments may have been compromised by a massive data theft by a senior IT technician for the NDB, Switzerland’s intelligence service, European national security sources said.

Intelligence agencies in the United States and Britain are among those who were warned by Swiss authorities that their data could have been put in jeopardy, said one of the sources, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information.

Swiss authorities arrested the technician suspected in the data theft last summer amid signs he was acting suspiciously. He later was released from prison while a criminal investigation by the office of Switzerland’s Federal Attorney General continues, according to two sources familiar with the case.

The suspect’s name was not made public. Swiss authorities believe he intended to sell the stolen data to foreign officials or commercial buyers.

A European security source said investigators now believe the suspect became disgruntled because he felt he was being ignored and his advice on operating the data systems was not being taken seriously.

Swiss news reports and the sources close to the investigation said that investigators believe the technician downloaded terrabytes, running into hundreds of thousands or even millions of printed pages, of classified material from the Swiss intelligence service’s servers onto portable hard drives. He then carried them out of government buildings in a backpack.

One of the sources familiar with the investigation said that intelligence services like the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, routinely shared data on counter-terrorism and other issues with the NDB. Swiss authorities informed U.S. and British agencies that such data could have been compromised, the source said.

News of the theft of intelligence data surfaced with Switzerland’s reputation for secrecy and discretion in government and financial affairs already under assault.

Swiss authorities have been investigating, and in some cases have charged, whistleblowers and some European government officials for using criminal methods to acquire confidential financial data about suspected tax evaders from Switzerland’s traditionally secretive banks.

The suspect in the spy data theft worked for the NDB, or Federal Intelligence Service, which is part of Switzerland’s Defense Ministry, for about eight years.

He was described by a source close to the investigation as a “very talented” technician and senior enough to have “administrator rights,” giving him unrestricted access to most or all of the NDB’s networks, including those holding vast caches of secret data.

Swiss investigators seized portable storage devices containing the stolen data after they arrested the suspect, according to the sources. At this point, they said, Swiss authorities believe that the suspect was arrested and the stolen data was impounded before he had an opportunity to sell it.

However, one source said that Swiss investigators could not be positive the suspect did not sell or pass on any of the information before his arrest, which is why Swiss authorities felt obliged to notify foreign intelligence partners their information may have been compromised.

Representatives of U.S. and British intelligence agencies had no immediate response to detailed queries about the case submitted by Reuters, although one U.S. official said he was unaware of the case.

SECURITY PROCEDURES QUESTIONED

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and a senior prosecutor, Carolo Bulletti, announced in September that they were investigating the data theft and its alleged perpetrator. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said she was prohibited by law from disclosing the suspect’s identity.

A spokesman for the NDB said he could not comment on the investigation.

At their September press conference, Swiss officials indicated that they believed the suspect intended to sell the data he stole to foreign countries. They did not talk about the possible compromise of information shared with the NDB by U.S. and British intelligence.

A European source familiar with the case said it raised serious questions about security procedures and structures at the NDB, a relatively new agency which combined the functions of predecessor agencies that separately conducted foreign and domestic intelligence activities for the Swiss government.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Tue, Dec 4 2012

By Mark Hosenball

Find This story at 4 December 2012

© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

Swiss intelligence employee stole ‘millions’ of classified pages

Swiss authorities have warned Western intelligence agencies that their secrets may have been compromised by a disgruntled intelligence employee who stole “thousands or even millions of pages of classified material”. Citing “European national security sources”, Reuters said the employee at the center of the case worked for the NDB, Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service. He had been employed by NDB for eight years as a network technician with “full administrator rights” and had unrestricted access to the NDB’s computers, as well as to those of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Defense, under which the NDB operates. About a year ago, however, the unnamed technician apparently became disgruntled after his views on how to structure the NDB’s databases were allegedly sidelined or ignored. He eventually decided to use several portable hard drives to download countless classified documents from Swiss government servers and managed to carry them out of the office building where he worked, using a backpack. According to Swiss authorities, he intended to sell the classified information to foreign governments or black-market operatives. He was apprehended, however, after he tried to set up a numbered bank account with Swiss-based UBS bank, using what bank security officials described as “suspicious identification documentation”. The former NDB network technician is currently the subject of a criminal investigation by the Office of the Swiss Federal Attorney General, and authorities say they think they arrested him before he was able to sell the stolen information.

December 5, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Find this story at 5 December 2012