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“Intense foreign espionage activity” identified in Portugal

A report highlighted in the today’s press for very different reasons has registered “intense activity of foreign espionage” in Portugal.

RASI (the annual report on internal security) claims the activity “represents a real threat to our internal security and national interests”, writes Diário de Notícias.

While elsewhere the media concentrates on aspects of RASI alluding to the global threat of terrorism – and how it might affect Portugal – DN’s analysis is much more focused on what is really going on “in plain sight”.

Top people in industry and universities are being recruited by foreign secret services, says the paper – claiming “the environment of the economic crisis” has made this all the more easy.

“No less worrying are the consequences of economic espionage”, targeting “the business fabric” of the country and “scientific investigation with elevated economic potential”.

With business confederation chief António Saraiva saying this is all news to him (“I don’t have a report on anything like this,” he is quoted as telling DN), RASI is cited as having alerted to the “significant increase in the espionage threat to political and military sectors, essentially by the growing necessity for information that anticipates strategic directions of the Portuguese government within international organisations, particularly the European Union, NATO and the CPLP (community of Portuguese language countries)”.

Former major general of the Armed Forces Loureiro dos Santos has interpreted RASI’s evaluation as “being a signal that information leaks may have been detected”, possibly orchestrated “by interested people from other countries on positions that Portugal might take in determined international organisations”.

The objective of this kind of spy work would be to prepare challenges, he suggested.

Coming on April 1, the Resident is still not clear whether DN is coming up with a worrying angle on a fairly humdrum annual report, or whether it is just having us all on.

But for the moment, we should all perhaps be checking for clicks on our phones lines and gremlins in our mailboxes.

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