Respekt has just published a story which provides more detail on a recent successful intelligence operation carried out by country’s BIS counterintelligence service, an agency that has been criticised for incompetence by President Miloš Zeman. The weekly says that BIS shut down a group of Russian hackers, who were part of a wider international network, in early 2018.
Voice of America (VOA), today the largest U.S. government-funded international broadcaster, ceased its Czech language broadcasts exactly 15 years ago today, on 27 February 2004, shortly ahead of the country’s accession to the European Union. The move followed budget cuts by the U.S. Congress and, the Cold War long over, a shift to “new audiences and new priorities”. We look back at the station’s local legacy.
Chinese tech giant Huawei has threatened to go to court if the Czech
National Cyber and Information Security Agency does not cancel or adjust
its warning against incorporating Huawei technology, the daily Deník N
reports. The company has apparently stated this in letters sent to Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš and Dušan Navrátil, the agency’s director.
Huawei has demanded an answer by February 14. The government discussed the
matter on Friday and decided that Huawei's letter will be answered by
the cybersecurity agency and not by government.
The threat of international arbitration follows the withdrawal by various government ministries from contracts with Huawei after the Czech cyber watchdog issued a warning in December against using Huawei technology in the state’s critical infrastructure.
The Czech Republic’s cyber security institution, NCISA, has released a warning that Huawei devices may be used to damage the country’s national interests. Following the warning’s release, many institutions including the Office of the Government and a number of ministries have reacted by banning Huawei phones. The new measures are likely to impact ongoing tenders as well.
The Senate’s Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security is to
meet in a closed session to debate President Zeman’s recent criticism of
the Czech counterintelligence service, the BIS. The meeting was called by
the committee’s chairman Pavel Fisher, who said the president’s words
were damaging the country’s reputation and public trust in its
In response to the counterintelligence service’s annual report in which it warns of heightened activities on the part of Russian and Chinese agents, the president made derogatory remarks about its performance, saying the report failed to present any evidence to back its claims and described it as “blather”.
Michal Koudelka, head of the national counterintelligence service BIS, sharply rejected the president’s claim that the BIS was “sleeping on the job”, saying that this year the service had helped expose and dismantle a Russian intelligence service operating in the country.
The latest annual report of Czech counter-intelligence service BIS has outlined a series of threats to national security in what analysts say is unusually direct, rather undiplomatic language. In particular, BIS points to efforts by Russian and Chinese spies and other actors in terms of spreading disinformation in a bid to sway public opinion, and engaging in economic espionage.
Opposition parties in the lower house are calling for a parliamentary
commission which would evaluate the influence of foreign agents on
developments in the Czech Republic.
A joint proposal for such a commission has been tabled by the Civic Democrats, the Pirate Party, TOP 09, the Mayors and Independents and the Christian Democrats. The move comes in response to an intelligence service report warning of heightened activity on the part of Russian and Chinese agents in the country.
The report for 2017, issued on Monday, is to be debated at a special government session.
In its 2017 report the Czech intelligence service BIS warns of heightened
activity of Russian and Chinese agents on Czech territory.
The report says that both Russia and China have stepped up their activity in the sphere of hybrid warfare and disinformation campaigns, often using Czechs who serve as a smoke screen.
The report says that Russia is benefitting from an exceptionally large diplomatic corps in the Czech Republic and the often irresponsible attitude of local politicians and public service employees to confidential information. The number of Chinese agents serving under the guise of diplomats has significantly increased, the report says.
The report also registers 11 fighters in terrorist organizations with links to the Czech Republic. Two of them are reported to be Czech nationals.
The Czech government is to debate the report in a special session.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, has described
Russia as “dangerous”. In an interview with Czech Radio, Mr.
Petříček said Moscow was increasingly assertive and represented a danger
as it was spreading disinformation and employing various hybrid threats.
The minister, who was appointed last month, said Russia was a genuine risk to the Czech Republic and other European Union states, adding that reports of the threat posed by Moscow from the Czech intelligence service ought to be taken very seriously.
Mr. Petříček said the Czech Republic should not “wait with its hands on its lap” but should tackle such threats more effectively. He said it was necessary to boost strategic communication and the combating of disinformation within the framework of the EU.
The suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal reportedly visited the Czech Republic in 2014, at the time when Skripal himself was in the country, allegedly helping the Czech counter-intelligence service uncover Russian spies. Radiožurnal, Czech Radio’s flagship news channel, broke the story on Wednesday, citing Czech intelligence sources.