Municipalities Target of Russian Espionage
THE HAGUE, 06/07/13 - Dutch municipalities are the target of espionage activities by foreign intelligence services. The Russians in particular try to extract confidential information from both large and small municipalities, says the deputy head of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) Marc Kuipers in public administration magazine Binnenlands Bestuur.
Foreign intelligence services are interested in dossiers such as security of energy provisions and developments in EU matters, with which municipal authorities are increasingly involved, said Kuipers. Additionally, their activities concern information from the residents registration system (GBA), for example concerning creating false identities for Russian secret agents, and concerning police data and aliens dossiers, he added.
Officials are insufficiently aware that they can have interesting information for foreign secret services in house, according to the AIVD. “They find this inconceivable. They think it is something from the Cold War or say: ‘Surely it is only the big countries that do this?’ But it is a fact that other countries are interested in municipal dossiers and files,” according to Kuipers.
Foreign intelligence services everywhere go after what can be picked up, according to the AIVD. “This could be a migrants’ community in a village, but also a university in Amsterdam. We have information on the way in which Russia operates to recruit people to get at birth and death certificates,” said Kuipers.
The AIVD notes that foreign secret services, topped by the Russians and followed by the Chinese and Iranians, primarily aim their darts at civil servants with the best information position. “Secret services look for people who are vulnerable and may be approachable. This process does not have to be at the top level of an organisation at all. So this is not the mayor, the alderman or the top official, but the lower functions in the town hall. You could think of a secretary or a system manager, officials who are often overlooked but who do in fact have access to the entire system.”