The recent US – Russian spy ring caught headlines across the world last week. Tuesday an Iranian nuclear scientist showed up in Washington, DC at the Pakistani embassy claiming to be a kidnap victim and asked for help to return to Iran. Now UK has their own spy problem. Intelligence experts report a former MI6 worker stole top secret files that could still fall into enemy hands.
It has come to light that Daniel Houghton, a MI6 employee, was caught in an undercover sting operation with the intent to sell top secret files and other sensitive data. He worked for almost two years working on an email intercept technique project with MI5 and MI6. He began burning files onto CDs and DVDs and transferring data to digital memory cards.
The amount of stolen digital property is enormous. As an example of how much data he copied and removed from the organization it was reported that on one Sony memory card found at his flat there were almost 7,000 files. There were also hard copies of documents stamped as “top secret”, “secret”, and “restricted”. Portable hard drives with data were also recovered.
Nine MI5 files alone contained names of over 300 officers and another contained home and mobile phone numbers of 39 officers.
The sting operation was put into place when he contacted the Dutch Intelligence Services, the AVID, and sought to sell information. The Dutch thankfully contacted British authorities and the sting operation began by MI5.
Twice Houghton met with undercover officers and shared files and handed over information. He at first wanted 2 million pounds but later negotiated for 900,000 pounds instead. On March 1st after thinking he had pulled off the final deal he walked out of the hotel room chosen for the final exchange only to be confronted by MI5. At that point he continued to deny his involvement, struggled against arrest and now claims voices told him to carry out the spy plans.
One source commenting on the material Houghton possessed said that had he of been successful in his attempt to sell classified information it would have had a “severe impact on operational capabilities and particularly the ability to collect intelligence.”