Irish security services have been closely monitoring the activities of Russian Spies have been operating from their embassy in south Dublin for “several years”, with the information gathered being shared “if necessary” with the security agencies of friendly nations such as the US and Britain, sources have confirmed.
the Irish Independent may reveal that the sophisticated counterintelligence operation is being carried out by a top-secret surveillance station in an anonymous building near the controversial Russian campus on Orwell Road.
The center is run by officers from the Garda National Crime and Security Intelligence Service, the agency responsible for state security, in conjunction with the Counter-Terrorism Special Unit (SDU) ‘Red Branch’.
It also sometimes works with Defense Forces Intelligence J2, including the Army Ranger Wing.
The facility is equipped with the latest wiretapping and surveillance technology, allowing gardaí to identify and keep tabs on the movements and activities of Russian spies who have been operating here since the early 2000s.
the Irish Independent understands that a key focus of the security operation is that Dublin-based Russian spies and diplomats do not use phones or the internet to communicate with the Kremlin.
Instead, they rely on shortwave radio, which can transmit encrypted messages over thousands of kilometers and can be intercepted by the authorities here.
We also learned that information about the activities of Kremlin spies and people they encounter is updated and analyzed daily. It is then shared with other security services such as the CIA, MI6 and other EU intelligence agencies.
Files are kept on every single employee of the embassy, which has a disproportionately large number of diplomats for the few Russian citizens living here.
The reports contain transcripts of intercepted conversations and communications.
The revelations follow the government’s decision to expel four Russian diplomats from the embassy last week.
This came after senior Garda officers briefed the Taoiseach and ministers on the classified intelligence reports.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil on Tuesday that the Russians had been ordered to leave the country because their activities “did not meet international standards of diplomatic conduct,” which is accepted as spy shorthand.
Sources have revealed that the four diplomats are suspected members of the GRU, the Kremlin’s military intelligence agency, and that they have been closely monitored since arriving in Ireland.
Security sources say the embassy has been used “for several years” as a key spy hub, from where GRU agents and Russia’s foreign intelligence agency SVR conduct operations across the EU.
Irish spies have also been found to have been monitoring Russian agents as they attempted to compromise or bribe a number of international businessmen.
In at least one instance in recent years, Ireland has shared information with another country’s security service that suggests that one of its citizens has been the victim of ‘compromised’ or compromising material.
The security agency then made “discreet contact” with this important person, informing her that she had been compromised and advising her to return home.
A source said: “Ireland has been perceived as a weak link in the EU security infrastructure, which the Russians also believe and is probably why they are in Ireland in such large numbers – that perception appealed to everyone [the Irish and international security services].
“It’s not very James Bond or anything, but the Irish have been very effective and are highly regarded by their peers.”
Garda’s secret intelligence gleaned from spying on the spies also led to the expulsion in 2011 of a Russian diplomat involved in forging Irish passports on Orwell Road by then Foreign Minister Micheál Martin.
The documents were used by Kremlin spies in the US and Europe.
The ongoing operations also prompted the government to change laws that allowed it to block plans for a massive embassy expansion in 2020.
In March 2018, the use of the deadly nerve agent Novichok to poison former Russian military officer and British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia gave the Irish government an opportunity to send another spy home.
Then-Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald condemned the move, accusing then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of “blatant disregard for Irish neutrality.”
In a highly unusual move, statements by Sinn Féin condemning the expulsion were removed from the party’s website following last month’s Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who had worked closely with MI5 in previous roles at the RUC and PSNI, told the Public Accounts Committee that he was under investigationWings of counterintelligence at his disposal.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/spying-on-the-spies-how-the-garda-keeps-tabs-on-russian-agents-working-from-dublin-41512844.html Spying on the Spies: How the Garda keep tabs on Russian agents working out of Dublin