Albania, a Nato country, is posting sensitive information about its most senior intelligence operatives on the internet, making details about their identities, vehicles, operational roles, travel movements, and daily habits publicly available in what appears to be a major and potentially dangerous breach that could have international consequences.
Salary and expense data posted in spreadsheets on the website of Albania’s Ministry of Finance show a wealth of details about the State Intelligence Service, including the locations of field offices, cash withdrawals, and minutiae such as the plumbers, technicians and mechanics they use.
The records show the names and national identification card numbers of agents in the service, known locally and in the intelligence community as SHISH, operating inside Albania and abroad, including two with sensitive posts at Nato headquarters in Brussels. The spreadsheets disclose the names, positions, salaries and expenses of at least eight senior clandestine Albanian operatives – some working under diplomatic cover – in Belgium, Greece, Kosovo, Italy, FYROM and Serbia.
The Independent is not disclosing names or other identifying details to prevent retribution against low-level informants or others who may be associated with the agency’s operatives. Presented with the breach during a meeting in a café outside the agency’s heavily fortified Tirana compound, SHISH officials acknowledged the sensitive nature of the information.
“The principle is that everything our agency does should be hidden, but we should follow all these rules and regulations,” said one SHISH official. “The rules and regulations don’t allow us to spend the money without reporting it.”
Intelligence and security professionals told about the breach were stunned by the revelations, which could leave agents in sensitive positions vulnerable to surveillance or 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 and was a former Major-General in the army.
“You start pulling a string and you end up in Brussels or London or the office of a supreme allied commander in the US.”
A former CIA field operative familiar with SHISH described it as the type of bureaucratic catastrophe that could put lives at risk.
“Your admin can screw you up if they’re not paying attention,” he told The Independent on condition of anonymity because he continues to work on sensitive security matters.
“You can put the budget online. But to put the names and the other details of agents – that’s insanity.”
A Brussels-based spokesperson for Nato said in an email that it does not comment on intelligence matters.
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