Albania has posted sensitive information about its senior intelligence operatives on the internet, publicizing crucial details about their identities, according to a recent report from Great Britain’s The Independent newspaper.
Senior intelligence agents’ identities, operational roles, daily habits, vehicles and travel movements are now publicly available because of the stunning and potentially dangerous breach. The disclosure, which appears to be intentional, could have international consequences, since Albania is a NATO ally.
“The principle is that everything our agency does should be hidden, but we should follow all these rules and regulations. The rules and regulations don’t allow us to spend the money without reporting it,” an Albanian intelligence official told The Independent.
The public website of Albania’s Ministry of Finance shows spreadsheets which include many specific details about the State Intelligence Service. The information includes locations of field offices, salaries, cash withdrawals, as well as other less important details such as the plumbers or technicians they use.
Records from the Albanian intelligence service, known as SHISH, show the names of agents operating inside Albania and abroad, including two agents with sensitive posts at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The spreadsheets disclose the names, positions, salaries and expenses of at least eight senior intelligence operatives, some of whom are working under diplomatic cover, in the countries of Belgium, Greece, Kosovo, Italy, FYROM and Serbia.
The disclosures have generated an outcry in the Western intelligence community. The unprecedented breach could leave agents vulnerable to surveillance and blackmail by hostile intelligence organizations or criminals seeking to infiltrate the Western alliance.
“By getting into Albania’s system they can get into NATO’s system,” said Xhemal Gjunkshi, an opposition member of the Albanian parliament who serves on the National Security Commission.
“You start pulling a string and you end up in Brussels or London or the office of a supreme allied commander in the US,” Gjunkshi told The Independent.