‘Britain under attack from 20 foreign spy agencies’

February 8th, 2009 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 8 (IANS) Russia and China lead a list of 20 foreign intelligence agencies targeting Britain for cutting edge technologies and other secrets, a British government document was quoted saying Sunday.
While Russia and China have “the most active spy networks” operating in Britain, other countries, including European allies such as France and Germany, are also spying on Britain, the Sunday Telegraph reported quoting from the Jan 19 document that it said had been circulated to all government departments.

The document says Britain is a “high priority espionage target” for intelligence agencies from 20 countries, including Iran, Syria, North Korea and Serbia.

“Whilst our primary threat would seem to come from international terrorism, it is important that we do not lose sight of another omnipresent threat. Espionage against UK interests continues to come from many quarters,” the document says, according to the newspaper.

“In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today’s high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past.

“It is estimated that at least 20 foreign intelligence services are operating to some degree against UK interests. Of greatest concern are the Russians and Chinese. The number of Russian intelligence officers in London has not fallen since the Soviet times,” it adds.

Patrick Mercer, who heads the British parliament’s counter-terrorist subcommittee, said: “Britain is at the forefront of many cutting edge technologies and these are extremely attractive to lots of other countries, some of whom may actually be our allies.”

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