No Let-Up In Spying Amid Tit-For-Tat Russian Sanctions: US Official

William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, described a wide array of challenges his agency faces: hacking of government and industry secrets; industrial espionage; government employees and contractors who share secrets with the news media and groups such as WikiLeaks and foreign acquisition of strategic US industries.

 Share
EMAIL
PRINT
COMMENTS
No Let-Up In Spying Amid Tit-For-Tat Russian Sanctions: US Official

US have faced trouble with Russian espionage, with their recent alleged role in the 2016 election


Washington:  Russia still runs a versatile spying campaign against the United States despite sanctions and daily publicity about Moscow's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the top US counter-intelligence official said in an interview.

William Evanina, the National Counterintelligence Executive, described a wide array of challenges his agency faces: hacking of government and industry secrets; industrial espionage; government employees and contractors who share secrets with the news media and groups such as WikiLeaks and foreign acquisition of strategic US industries.

Evanina spoke to Reuters on Friday, the same day that Russia retaliated in Cold War-era style to a new round of US sanctions by ordering Washington to cut diplomatic staff and said it was seizing two US diplomatic properties. Russian President Vladimir Putin said 755 people would have to leave their jobs, although many will be Russian nationals.

Congress voted overwhelmingly last week to further punish Russia over US intelligence agencies' conclusions that Moscow had used cyber warfare and other methods to meddle in the election, something Putin has repeatedly denied. Last December, then-President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, sanctioned Russian intelligence agencies and personnel, and evicted Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in the United States.

Evanina said that losing the compounds was a "significant blow to the Russians. Significant. And I'm not even sure we ... can measure it."

He said, however, that US agencies "have not seen a deterrence, or a drop - or an increase," in Russian spying activity in the last year. "I can tell you, the FBI does not have less work."

Still, Evanina acknowledged that in the tit-for-tat expulsions, the United States has more to lose than Moscow.

"We have a significantly ... smaller footprint over there than they do here. It's always going to be disproportionate."

The United States has long pursued its own aggressive espionage and electronic surveillance operations against Russia and, before that, the Soviet Union. Russia's cuts to U.S. personnel and property will shrink the diplomatic infrastructure that countries typically rely on to both conduct foreign affairs - and spy.

Evanina said Russian espionage strategy has shifted over the last five to seven years, no longer relying solely on intelligence officers formally employed by its spy agencies. Now, he said, it also involves dispatching businessmen, engineers and other travelers to the United States working as contractors for intelligence services.

Evanina declined to comment on US investigations into Moscow's election year activities and whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials. Trump denies any collusion.

He said that in the past year, he has worked intensively with the US private sector to protect critical infrastructure and supply chains from foreign threats. Evanina suggested that the United States could soon adopt more stringent reviews of foreign acquisitions that have national security implications.

Reuters reported on July 20 that the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has objected to at least nine acquisitions of US companies by foreign buyers so far this year, a historically high number that bodes poorly for China's overseas buying spree.

(Reporting by Warren Strobel and John Walcott; editing by Grant McCool)
 
© Thomson Reuters 2017


(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.

NDTV Beeps - your daily newsletter

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................