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BIS: Spies from China and Russia active in ČR

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Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – The role and intensity of Russian secret services increased last year, the Czech BIS counter-intelligence writes in its annual report released on Tuesday, adding that Chinese espionage also stepped up its operations against Czech interests and security.

Russian secret services were mainly gaining sensitive information from the political sphere.

The country was hit by the operations that were part of the campaign against such targets as Ukraine, the EU and NATO.

The Chinese espionage mainly wanted to eliminate the Tibetan question and harm Czech-Taiwanese relations, the report said.

The BIS had the activities for foreign powers under control and it managed to eliminate a number of activities of foreign agents, BIS director Michal Koudelka said.

When collecting intelligence information, political intelligence dominated Russian interests. Russian secret services have a quality network of contacts they further develop.

Czechs disclose a great deal of sensitive information from the organisations and companies in which they work, the report said.

These are not classified facts but their character and extent caused more harm to the Czech Republic than the disclosure of classified information, it added.

In 2015, the BIS mainly said in connection with Russian secret services that they were waging an information war associated with the Ukrainian and Syrian crises, developing the effort to get subsidies by means of front people.

At that time, Russia was trying to weaken the Czech Republic’s information potential by a secret infiltration into the Czech media and Internet as well as a massive production of propaganda and disinformation.

The country faced extensive computer hacking attacks from Russia in 2016. The most active was the APT28/Sofacy campaign focusing on various fields from diplomacy and the military to research and development and the academic sphere, the report writes.

Last year, the hybrid campaign continued, although the Czech Republic was not its primary target.

It was hit by the operations that were part of campaigns against other targets such as Ukraine, NATO and the EU, the report said.

The biggest source of a risk is posed by unconscious contacts with the Russian diplomatic personnel. A large part of Russian intelligence officers work under the diplomatic cover of the Russian mission in the long run, it added.

The trend within which Czech citizens were travelling from Russia to separatist regions of Ukraine as Donbas and Crimea continued last year, the report said.

“During these trips, Czech citizens use, though perhaps unconsciously, a latent assistance of Russian secret services,” it added.

Russian intelligence services also coordinated and financed the activities of the NGOs which questioned Ukraine’ territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The number of Chinese spies in the Czech Republic did not considerably change last year, the BIS report said.

However, the numbers of agents travelling to the Czech Republic within Chinese official delegations increased.

The number, aggressiveness and intensity of Chinese intelligence operations against Czech targets and interests increased. For this, the Chinese espionage used cooperation with ethnic Chinese living in the Czech Republic, the report said.

“It was not a Chinese priority to intensify and broaden the influence infiltration into Czech politics and bodies of Czech state power (though these activities continued, too), but to use of these capacities to the benefit of Chinese internal and foreign policy interests,” the BIS said.

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