Monday, January 02, 2006

MI6 and its old tricks

MI6 headquarters, Vauxhall Cross. London

"British officials have admitted MI6 officers were present during the interrogation of 28 Pakistanis in Greece, despite apparent denials by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. They insist, however, that the officers took no active part in the men's arrest, questioning or abuse that was later alleged.
As the story of the interrogation of the Pakistanis, picked up in Greece following the 7 July London bombings, has turned into a political scandal in Athens, officials in the UK have retreated from Straw's insistence that the allegations of British involvement were 'fabricated' and 'utter nonsense'.
(Observer, Sunday January 1)

The MI6 station chief in Athens has been recalled to London with two other officers, but the media, with the exception of the Morning Star has so far obeyed the government's D-notice against naming their names. Newspapers that have been accorded interviews by MI6 spokespersons are saying the prisoners were not kidnapped, but arrested; they were not tortured, only slapped and hit. Well, that's alright then, isn't it?

More information has surfaced about station chief Nicholas Langman(see his official job below):-

British Embassy
1 Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens
FTN Code - 8542 + extn number (switchboard: 8542 1000)
Telephone: (00) (30) 210 727 2600
Night (RSO): (00) (30) 210 723 7727
724 1331
Facsimile: (00) (30) 210 727 2734 Political & Commercial Section

Airtech: (00) (30) 210 722 7122
Office Hours (GMT): 06 00 - 13 00
Ambassador: Mr Simon L Gass, CMG, CVO
Consul-General, Deputy Head of Mission: Mr Ian Whitting
Counsellor: Mr Nicholas Langman
Defence & Naval Attaché: Captain John R Wills, RN
Military & Air Attaché: Colonel Mark Blatherwick, MBE, GM

(my emphasis).

Meanwhile the blogosphere is live with information like this, from a contributor to former diplomat Craig Murray's site:

Langman is one of the SIS officers who were in Paris shortly before the Princess Diana car crash. In May 1999 he was named on a short list that was then swamped - complete with a sensationalist fanfare involving Robin Cook - by the release of a longer list. Not for nothing has Richard Tomlinson suggested that the longer list may have been put out by SIS itself. Langman had also, of course, been named on the affidavit that Tomlinson supplied to the French inquiry - a document that was potentially much more damaging to SIS than either of the 1999 lists.
Moves were made to get Langman, along with Spearman and Dearlove, to testify to the French car-crash inquiry, but (surprise surprise) they managed to avoid doing so.

Tomlinson was the former MI6 man who did six months in Belmarsh under the Official Secrets Act, and was accused of publishing a list of agents' names which he denied. This is the relevant passage from the aforementioned Tomlinson Affidavit, though I found it on a rather dodgy website and can't vouch for it's authenticity:

In Paris at the time of M. Paul’s death, there were two relatively experienced but undeclared MI6 officers. The first was Mr Nicholas John Andrew LANGMAN, born 1960. The second was Mr Richard David SPEARMAN, again born in 1960. I firmly believe that either one or both of these officers will be well acquainted with M Paul, and most probably also met M. Paul shortly before his death. I believe that either or both of these officers will have knowledge that will be of crucial importance in establishing the sequence of events leading up to the deaths of M.Paul, Dodi Al Fayed and the Princess of Wales.

Craig Murray remarks on the coincidence that his website experienced sudden difficulties after he covered the MI6 Greek affair. He hopes this was a coincidence, and so do I, for the sake of this weblog. Yours with trepidation!

How they gave a "dead" Nazi a new life

FOLLOWING my story about Special Operations Executive(SOE) operative Noor Inayat Khan and her fate at the hands of the Nazis, I was interested to read about one of the Nazi officers responsible for dealing with captured spies and resisteurs.

Horst Kopkow was senior counter-intelligence officer at the Reich Security Headquarters (RSHA) in Berlin. He was in charge of officers interrogating captured Allied agents, whether British SOE parachutists or Soviet spies.

In 1946, Kopkow came into British custody, and seemed eager to make himself helpful, until he was asked about agents who had been killed in concentration camps.He insisted that Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS had taken such decisions personally.

One case he was asked about was an MI6 man called Frank Chamier, who had been dropped in Germany in April 1944. Vera Atkin of SOE had established that Chamier had been in Ravensbruck, and was tortured to death on orders from Kopkow. In fact he may have ordered the deaths of 100 British agents.

Two years later, war crimes investigators learned that Kopkow, by then in London, had died in custody. A letter from a Lieutenant Colonel Patterson said
"The above as you know was sent to England about ten days ago for special interrogation and when he arrived here he was found to be running a temperature and after two days he was sent to hospital, where we regret to say he died of Bronchopneumonia before any information was obtained from him.
"We enclose a certificate of death issued by the Hospital Authorities and would request that you duly advise the authorities of his decease. He has been buried in that portion of the local Military Cemetery allocated to prisoners of war who have died here."

In fact, Kopkow was alive. His interrogators had been impressed by what he knew about the "Red Orchestra" spying for the Soviet Union. He was provided with a new identity and freed from custody to work with MI6 in the Cold War. How useful he may have been we don't know. Soviet intelligence did succeeed in turning some German agents. In any case the head of MI6's section IX dealing with countering Soviet operations was one Kim Philby.

Meanwhile Vera Atkin faced other problems. MI6 was determined to cast all blame for wartime failures on SOE. In the 1950s a Tory MP, Dame Irene Ward began asking questions about Vera's nationality (she had been born in Romania) and when she had been naturalised. Then a file was opened on the former SOE officer by MI5 and rumours began about her supposed "communist sympathies".

Kopkow adopted the name Cordes, and died in Gelsenkirchen in 1996. Sarah Helm, who came across information about Kornow while researching her book on Atkin (A Life in Secrets, Little, Brown, 2005) found it confirmed by previously secret papers released last year.

It had already been well-known that the CIA recruited ex-Nazis. But "British intelligence sources pointed out that Kopkow was not in the league of the 'butcher of Lyons'", Klaus Barbie.
(MI6 protected Nazi who killed 100 British agents, Times, May 14 2005),,2-1611185,00.html

Which reminds me that the Foreign Office was very reluctant to release files in its possession when Barbie was captured and brought to trial.



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