Belgian intelligence officials have accused China of espionage targeting the county’s biological warfare and vaccine experts.
A report in the EU Observer details reports from Belgium’s homeland security service, the Veiligheid van de Staat (VSSE), dating back a decade showing threats of Chinese military, scientific, and medical espionage.
“This area [biological warfare and vaccines] is of great interest to Chinese [intelligence] services. Both defensively, because China, due to its overpopulation, is very exposed to epidemics, as well as offensively, since it has studied Ebola as an offensive vector”. one of the reports notes.
The VSSE report says that a former Belgian bioweapons expert was targeted by Chinese spies in 2010 while working as a scientist in Brussels:
He was very friendly with a Chinese scientist, whom he had “introduced into the scientific and medical milieu” in Belgium, the VSSE said.
But the Chinese scientist used to be a military doctor in the Chinese army, the VSSE noted, and “she might keep too-close ties with her country in general and her former employer in particular”, it added.
“She was obviously MSS,” the Belgian security source told EUobserver, referring to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).
Another bioweapons researcher, Jean-Luc Gala, was also targeted by China according to the report, during a time he was testing Japanese anti-viral drug Avigan, which is now being researched as a potential coronavirus treatment.
“The VSSE noted that two suspicious Chinese entities had opened offices on a different floor of the same campus building that housed units of the Belgian bioweapons institute.” the report states.
The report also suggest that Beijing has targeted the Belgium office of British pharmaceutical giant and vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
While the report notes that the suspicions have no direct link to the current coronavirus pandemic, they come at a time when China is under intense scrutiny owing to its attempted cover up of the pandemic outbreak.
Intelligence agencies in the UK and the US this week jointly warned that ‘rival states’ are conducting ‘malicious cyber campaigns’ against universities, pharmaceuticals and research institutes carrying out research on the coronavirus.
US Tells Snowden Return Home To “Face Justice” Or Risk Conscription In Russian Army
Upon learning of Monday’s decree signed by Vladimir Putin to grant Russian citizenship to ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden after having been given asylum since he arrived there in 2013, the US administration called on Snowden to return to American soil to “face justice”.
“Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.
But Price followed with a claim that’s being disputed by Snowden’s legal defense team. “Perhaps the only thing that has changed, is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he said.
In response, Snowden’s lawyer was quoted in Russia’s Sputnik as saying since Snowden never served in the Russian army, he will not be impacted by the ‘partial mobilization’ – which applies to reservists, though there have been conflicting reports of instances of draft notices being sent out to Russian young men:
“He did not serve in the Russian army, therefore, according to our current legislation, he does not fall into this category of citizens, which is now called up. You know that now they are calling up reservists who have served and have the appropriate specialty. And then he will act according to the law, as everything is provided for in Russian legislation,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s laywer in Russia, said.
The decree enacted on Monday stated as follows:
“In accordance with paragraph ‘a’ of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, I decide: to accept the following persons in the citizenship of the Russian Federation: Edward Joseph Snowden, born June 21, 1983, in the United States of America.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Snowden said he had applied for and obtained dual citizenship on fears that he could be separated from his son without Russian citizenship.
Snowden remains America’s most visible whistleblower, after a career in US intelligence, including as a contractor for the NSA and CIA, he exposed pervasive US government domestic surveillance, which critics say is a severe violation of individual Americans’ rights as guaranteed under the Constitution.This post originally appeared at Zero Hedge
Video: French PM Declares EU Will Be ‘Vigilant’ Against ‘Threat’ Of Democratically Elected Italian Leader
“In Europe, we have a set of values and, of course, we will be mindful that these values are respected by everyone.”
Following the stunning election of conservative candidate Georgia Meloni to the office of Prime Minister in Italy, Meloni’s French counterpart has declared that the EU will be ‘vigilant’ against any ‘threat to human rights’ posed by the democratically elected leader.
France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, stated during an interview that the EU intends to scrutinise the actions of the Italy’s first woman PM.
“In Europe, we have a set of values and, of course, we will be mindful that these values are respected by everyone when it comes to human rights and the right to abortion,” Borne proclaimed.
Meloni, a Catholic, has previously promised that there will be no crack down on abortion in Italy, but has expressed a desire to see more alternatives offered to women.
The comments of the French PM come after European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen threatened to punish Italy for electing a right-wing coalition government.
Von der Leyen stated that “we have tools” if Italy is not “willing to work with us”:
The thinly veiled threat was blasted by Matteo Salvini, head of Lega (The League), the party expected to form a coalition with Meloni’s government.
“These are disgusting words, the threatening tone is unacceptable,” Salvini urged, adding “Our parliamentary group will present a motion of censure,” and emphasising that the Italian people control what happens in their country, not “the Brussels bureaucrats”.
Following the victory of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, hysterical media coverage ensued, with numerous publications warning of the “return of fascism in Italy.”
Those concerns were rubbished by, of all people, former leftist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who called them “fake news.”
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China Accuses NSA Of Hacking Into Government-Funded University
Three months after US security agencies warned that Chinese-backed hackers had been targeting “major telecommunications companies and network service providers” for over two years, Chinese state media on Thursday accused the National Security Agency (NSA) of infiltrating a government-funded university and gaining access to ‘China’s telecommunications network,’ CNBC reports.
Citing an unnamed source, the Global Times accused the NSA of phishing – a hacking technique which uses malicious links or other methods to trick users into providing access credentials – to gain access to Northwestern Polytechnical University, where they allegedly stole “core technology data including key network equipment configuration, network management data, and core operational data,” along with other files.
The report goes on to claim that the NSA infiltrated Chinese telecom operators in an effort to “control the country’s infrastructure.”
The Global Times, citing its unnamed source, reported that more details about the attack on Northwestern Polytechnical University will be released soon.
For several years, China has accused the U.S. of cyberattacks but has not been specific. However, in the last few weeks, Beijing has been more vocal in attributing particular attacks to the U.S., in a ramping up of tensions between the two nations in the cyber sphere. -CNBC
The alleged attack was discovered by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center several weeks ago, which also accused the US of engaging in “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on Chinese targets.
Conversely, the US has accused China of massive hacking operations – with FBI Director Christopher Wray claiming in February that Beijing’s cyberattacks have become “more brazen, more damaging, than ever before,” in their attempts to steal US information and technology.
In June, US security agencies warned that Chinese-backed hackers were targeting “major telecommunications companies and network service providers” since 2020.
In a June 7 cybersecurity advisory, they urged those affected to take immediate remedial action.
The advisory, coauthored by the National Security Agency (NSA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said the hackers “continue to exploit publicly known vulnerabilities,” using tactics to bypass defenses and keeping themselves undetected.
The agencies pointed out that the hackers allegedly utilized open-source tools, such as RouterSploit and RouterScan, and known software flaws in networking devices such as routers.
“[T]hese devices are often overlooked by cyber defenders, who struggle to maintain and keep pace with routine software patching of Internet-facing services and endpoint devices,” noted the agencies.
The agencies did not identify the victim companies in the advisory, but they included a list of the common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) most frequently exploited by the Chinese regime’s hackers since 2020, together with vulnerability types and the major vendors—Cisco, Citrix, D-Link, Fortinet, and Netgear.
They urged potential victims to shore up their networks by applying immediate patches, updating infrastructure, and disabling unnecessary ports and protocols.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
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