Monthly Archives: January 2016

Former drug squad detective Paul Dale loses mental compensation bid

Paul Dale before appearing at the independent medical panel image www.crimefiles.net

Paul Dale before appearing at the independent medical panel in October. Photo: Eddie Jim

Paul Dale, the former drug squad detective implicated in the execution of a police informer and his wife during Melbourne’s gangland war, has lost a bid for taxpayer-funded compensation for trauma he claims he suffered in prison.

The Sunday Age can reveal the controversial ex-cop abandoned his lawsuit against the state government when an independent medical panel ruled Dale experienced no significant psychological damage from spending seven months in solitary confinement.

Dale claims he suffers from severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after being put in near continuous lockdown in a high-security unit in Barwon Prison while awaiting trial for the murders of witness Terrence​ Hodson and his wife Christine.

“The Victorian government is denying my mental injuries were caused by my incarceration in Acacia [Unit]. I’m going before this panel, they’ll make a finding, and we’ll see what happens after that,” he told The Sunday Age ahead of the review in late October

Dale said he was confident the state government had a case to answer for his mental injuries because Victoria’s Court of Appeal had found his incarceration in Acacia had “severely affected his mental health”.

“Not surprisingly, the conditions in which [Dale] has been kept in gaol have caused him great suffering. So far as can be told, he was not afflicted by any ailments when he was arrested,” the court said.

Dale was granted bail, in large part, for this reason in late 2009.

But a spokeswoman for the Andrews government said Dale has “discontinued” his compensation lawsuit after the medical panel found he was “unable to meet the relevant injury threshold” under the law.

No compensation was paid to Dale to drop the case, the government said.

Dale declined to comment.

The nature of Dale’s relationship to Carl Williams and the execution of Hodson and his wife remain one of the most controversial unsolved chapters of Melbourne’s gangland war.

Dale, who has beaten a string of serious criminal charges, has been accused of conduct that would make him one of the most corrupt police officers in the state’s history despite never being convicted.

In 2003, the former drug squad detective was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and drug trafficking over his alleged role in a plan with fellow detective David Miechel​ and career criminal Terrence​ Hodson to steal millions of dollars worth of ecstasy from a stash house.

The charges against Dale were dropped after the execution style-shooting deaths of Hodson and his wife Christine in their Kew home in 2004.

Dale was charged with their murders in 2009 after drug kingpin-turned-jailhouse informant Carl Williams told police he acted as the middle-man between Dale and hitman Rodney Collins, who was allegedly paid $150,000 to kill Hodson after he became a police informer.

But that case collapsed after Williams was bashed to death in prison by Matthew Johnson, head of anti-informer gang Prisoners of War.

In 2013, Dale was found not guilty on 12 charges of giving false and misleading evidence to the Australian Crime Commission about his links to Williams.

After a coronial inquest into the Hodson murders in 2015, Judge Ian Gray could not determine what role, if any, Dale had in the killings.

“At the very least it certainly appears, following the Dublin Street burglary, to have been a highly inappropriate relationship [with Williams] for a suspended police officer to have engaged in,” Judge Gray said.

Fairfax Media revealed in July that police were considering laying fresh corruption charges over Dale’s relationship with Williams.

Earlier this year, Carl Williams’ daughter Dhakota​ received a compensation payout from the state government for the trauma she allegedly suffered when he was killed in prison.

The “pragmatic call” was made by Premier Daniel Andrews after an independent medical panel found Dhakota​ and Carl’s former wife Roberta had experienced severe mental impairment as a result of his death.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Vladimir Putin ‘probably’ ordered KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko’s death by radioactive poisoning: inquiry. Story in videos & pics.

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President Putin ‘probably’ approved Litvinenko murder

A British inquiry has concluded the murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was “probably” approved by President Vladimir Putin. Courtesy ABC News 24.

London: Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” ordered the murder of defected KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, an official inquiry in Britain has found.

The finding will put pressure on the British government to take fresh measures against Russia, possibly including targeted sanctions and travel bans. It may also harm potential co-operation in military action against ISIS, and upcoming peace talks on the Syrian conflict.

Litvinenko died in November 2006 after a radioactive poison was slipped into his tea at a London hotel.

Alexander Litvinenko lies in a London hospital in November 2006 image www.intelagencies.com

Alexander Litvinenko lies in a London hospital in November 2006, dying of radiation poisoning. In 2014, the British government opened an inquiry into Moscow’s alleged involvement in the death of the former KGB agent.

There was a “strong probability” that the two killers were under the direction of the FSB, Russia’s security service.

“The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by [then FSB head Nikolai] Patrushev and also by President Putin,” Sir Robert Owen, who led the year-long inquiry, said.

The inquiry examined expert evidence and heard testimony from forensic scientists and family members, as well as secret evidence that was not disclosed in the public report – but believed to be from Western intelligence agencies.

Russian Andrey Lugovoy, a former KGB agent, allegedly spiked the tea of Alexander Litvinenko with highly radioactive polonium 210 in Mayfair, London, on November 1, 2006 image www.intelagencies.com

Russian Andrey Lugovoy, a former KGB agent, allegedly spiked the tea of Alexander Litvinenko with highly radioactive polonium 210 at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, London, on November 1, 2006. Photo: aklugovoy.ru

Sir Robert said he was “sure” that Litvinenko was deliberately poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210, which he ingested on November 1, 2006.

That afternoon Litvinenko had met two men for tea at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, London.

The men were Andrey Lugovoy and his associate Dmitri Kovtun – former Russian army officers. Lugovoy was a former KGB agent.

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, outside a pre-inquest review in London in 2012 image www.intelagencies.com

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, outside a pre-inquest review in London in 2012. Photo: AP

Forensic evidence showed the Pine Bar was “heavily contaminated” with polonium 210, the inquiry found.

“The highest readings were taken from the table where Mr Litvinenko was sitting and from the inside of one of the teapots. No comparable levels of contamination were found in any of the other places that Mr Litvinenko visited that day,” the report said.

Sir Robert said he was sure that Lugovoy and Kovtun placed the polonium in the teapot at the Pine Bar. They had tried to kill him with the same poison at a meeting a few weeks earlier.

Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy and author of the book Blowing Up Russia Terror From Within, at home in London in 2002 image www.intelagencies.com

Kovtun and Lugovoy are wanted by British authorities on suspicion of the murder of Mr Litvinenko. A warrant has been issued for their arrest but Russia has not extradited them. Both have denied killing Mr Litvinenko.

Forensic scientists found “widespread radioactive contamination” at locations linked to Lugovoy, Kovtun and Mr Litvinenko in the weeks before he fell ill.

There were also high levels of radioactive contamination on the British Airways plane seats Kovtum and Lugovoy used when flying to Moscow two days after the murder, and in placed visited by Kovtun in Germany the week before he took met with Litvinenko.

The inquiry rejected a “chemical fingerprint” theory that definitively traced the polonium to a Russian factory in Sarov, though it “unquestionably” could have come from there.

Sir Robert also cast doubt on a claim by a ‘Mr Potemkin’ that the polonium came from an August 2006 shipment to the FSB in Moscow.

However, given the amount of polonium possessed and used by the assassins, it “strongly indicated” the involvement of a state, Sir Robert said.

“Ordinary criminals might have been expected to use a straightforward, less sophisticated means of killing… the polonium 210 used to kill Mr Litvinenko must have come from a reactor and such reactors are in general under state control.”

The evidence in open court was strong circumstantial evidence of Russian state involvement, and the ‘closed evidence’ made it a strong probability that the FSB directed Lugovoy to poison Mr Litvinenko.

“There were powerful motives for organisations and individuals within the Russian state to take action against Mr Litvinenko, including killing him,” Sir Robert said.

“Mr Litvinenko was … regarded as having betrayed the FSB, … was an associate of leading opponents of the Putin regime and he had repeatedly targeted President Putin himself with highly personal public criticism.”

In one article, published the year he was killed, Mr Litvinenko claimed Mr Putin was a paedophile.

Evidence suggested Russia had previously killed a number of opponents of the Putin administration, through bombings and poison including radioactive poison.

Sir Robert said he was sure that Lugovoy and Kovtun were acting on behalf of others, probably the FSB.

Though they did not know the precise nature of the poison, they knew it was deadly, Sir Robert said.

During the inquiry Mr Putin awarded Lugovoy an honour for “services to the fatherland”. He is now a member of the Russian parliament.

In a deathbed statement Mr Litvinenko accused Mr Putin of direct involvement in his murder.

The inquiry heard evidence from several of Mr Litvinenko’s associates that the assassination could not have been done without Mr Putin’s knowledge and approval.

“This is a KGB rule number one, cover your back,” said one associate, Yuri Shvets.

An independent expert, Oxford University’s Professor Robert Service, who studies Russian history, told the inquiry it was “inconceivable” that FSB head Mr Patrushev would not have had advance knowledge of the operation.

Professor Service said Mr Putin had “some oversight” of FSB operations, and Sir Robert concluded that Mr Patrushev probably would have told Mr Putin about an operation such as the murder of Mr Litvinenko, though it was at present “unprovable”.

It was widely reported – and claimed by Mr Litvinenko’s widow and associates – that Mr Litvinenko had worked for British intelligence service MI6 after his arrival in Britain.

Sir Robert said the British government had not provided any evidence on the question in the “open” part of the inquiry – but had not denied it, either.

Sir Robert said in any case it was more important whether the FSB believed he was working for British intelligence agencies, and “that is precisely what the FSB believed” according to Lugovoy.

Mr Litvinenko’s former superior at the Russian secret service, Alexander Gusak, had agreed in an interview in 2007 that Litvinenko deserved to be executed because “when (he) defected abroad, he naturally handed over the undercover experts who had been its contacts”.

Mr Litvinenko was born in December 1962 and was an officer in the KGB and then the FSB. He was dismissed in 1998 after making public allegations of illegal activity within the FSB.

He was granted asylum with his wife and son in Britain in 2001 and worked as a journalist and author and producing ‘due diligence’ reports on Russian individuals and companies.

He fell ill on the evening of November 1, 2006 and died on November 23.

Just before his death, experts realised his body was highly contaminated with radioactive polonium 201.

Sir Robert said he had made one recommendation as a result of his inquiry, but he could not reveal it publicly as it concerned the ‘closed’ evidence he had heard.

Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina said she was “very pleased” with the inquiry’s findings.

She called for the British government to expel all Russian intelligence agents, “either FSB or other Russian agencies based in the London embassy”.

She also called for immediate, targeted economic sanctions and travel bans against the people named in the report, including Mr Putin.

“It’s unthinkable that the prime minister would do nothing in the face of (these) damning findings,” she said.

Home Secretary Theresa May revealed she had also written to her counterparts in the EU, NATO and ‘Five Eyes’ countries – which includes Australia – drawing their attention to the report and the need to take steps “to prevent such a murder being committed on their streets”.

She told parliament the report’s finding that the Russian state was probably involved in the murder was “deeply disturbing” and a “blatant and unacceptable breach of fundamental international law”.

She announced new asset freezes on the two alleged killers, saying Russia’s “continued failure to ensure they are brought to justice is unacceptable”.

The government had summoned the Russian ambassador to the Foreign Office to demand an account of the FSB’s role in this case.

Lugovoy calls accusations ‘absurd’

Andrei Lugovoy said the accusations against him were “absurd”, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Lugovoy, who represents the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in the Russian parliament, called the British inquiry “a pathetic attempt by London to use a skeleton in the closet for the sake of its political ambitions”.

He said the findings of the inquiry published on Thursday continued Britain’s “anti-Russian hysteria” which he said began after “the events in Ukraine in 2014”.

“The accusations brought against me are absurd,” he said.

“As we expected, there was no sensation. The results of the inquiry published today are yet more proof of London’s anti-Russian stance, its blinkered thinking and … unwillingness to establish the true cause of Litvinenko’s death.”

With Reuters

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Henry Sapiecha

This simple game shows why metadata laws won’t protect whistleblowers

Australia has passed data retention laws that force telecommunications companies to retain some types of phone and web metadata. This data can be requested by government agencies and has been used to investigate leaks of government information to journalists.

It now takes a warrant to access a journalist’s metadata to identify a source, but this offers limited protection. Government agencies can still seek data from suspected sources without a warrant. This game shows how a whistleblower can still be identified.

Dozens of government agencies request access to citizen metadata without warrants

man peeps behind blind image www.intelagencies.com

Nearly all the agencies which accessed citizens’ private information in the past have applied for continued access. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Nearly all of the government agencies which last year snooped on citizens’ phone and internet records without warrants have reapplied to access the data following the introduction of legislation which was meant to reduce the scope of access.

Sixty-one non-law enforcement federal and state agencies, including organisations such as Australia Post and Sydney’s Bankstown City Council, have applied to access citizens’ metadata for pursuing criminal activity or protecting public revenue.

The telecommunications data may include information such as phone numbers and addresses of people who called each other, or email addresses and the times messages were sent.

Attorney-General George Brandis image www.intelagencies.com

Attorney-General George Brandis has yet to decide which agencies may have access to telecommunications metadata.

By comparison, the latest official government report on metadata access, covering a period before new mandatory data retention legislation came into effect in October last year, showed 69 agencies accessed metadata. At that time they were automatically authorised to access this data, however following the legislation, non-law enforcement agencies must now apply directly to federal Attorney-General George Brandis for temporary approval to access metadata for up to 40 parliamentary sitting days.

No warrant is required to access the data.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department said Mr Brandis had not temporarily approved metadata access to any agencies who requested access.

The list of agencies was revealed in a Freedom of Information request filed by former Electronic Frontiers Australia vice chair Geordie Guy, and released to the public on Monday.

More agencies may have requested metadata access since Mr Guy’s FOI request was filed in November last year.

Digital rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia has called on Mr Brandis to reject most of the agencies’ applications.

EFA executive director Jon Lawrence said “only two or three” agencies would have legitimate reasons to access the private information.

“If the Attorney-General is serious about the integrity of his legislation and about protecting the civil liberties of all Australians, then he must act swiftly to reject the majority of these applications,” Mr Lawrence said.

In previous years local city councils have come under fire for using information gleaned from residents’ metadata to chase small-time infringers and recoup fines.

Melbourne’s Knox City Council last year accessed call charge records, and name and address details, to prosecute people who damaged property or were guilty of cruelty against animals or illegal signage, a council spokesperson said.

Bankstown City Council in Sydney appears to be the only council so far to have reapplied for access under the new regime.

A Bankstown spokesperson previously told Fairfax media the council used data to catch residents who dumped waste illegally. The agency made 13 information requests in the year to June 2015.

EFA’s Mr Lawrence said such matters were “hardly a national security issue” which might have justified its access to private information.

Other government agencies which have reapplied to access private communication records include Australia Post — which made 625 information requests last year — state racing bodies, the RSPCA and the Tax Office.

Australia Post has previously said that it requests phone records from telecommunication companies so it can chase people who steal phones or SIM cards from its stores, or pursue people who make “serious threats” to staff or engage in corruption and fraud.

The frequency of metadata requests from non-law enforcement agencies grew 9 per cent last year.

Below is the full list of agencies that applied for access to the data, except for four that were redacted in the FOI documents as their disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest”.

1. Australian Financial Security Authority, Commonwealth
2. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), Commonwealth
3. Australian Postal Corporation, Commonwealth
4. Australian Taxation Office, Commonwealth
5. Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Commonwealth
6. Civil Aviation, Safety Authority (CASA), Commonwealth
7. Clean Energy Regulator, Commonwealth
8. Department of Agriculture, Commonwealth
9. Department of Defence (ADFIS and IGD), Commonwealth
10. Department of the Environment, Commonwealth
11. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commonwealth
12. Department of Health, Commonwealth
13. Department of Human Services, Commonwealth
14. Department of Social Services, Commonwealth
15. Fair Work Building and Construction, Commonwealth
16. National Measurement Institute, Commonwealth
17. ACT Revenue Office, ACT
18. Access Canberra (Department of Treasury and Economic Development), ACT
19. Bankstown City Council, NSW
20. Consumer Affairs, VIC
21. Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading – Department of Justice), TAS
22. Consumer and Business Services, SA
23. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, QLD
24. Department of Commerce, WA
25. Department of Corrective Services, WA
26. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, QLD
27. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources (Fisheries), VIC
28. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VIC
29. Department of Environment Regulation, WA
30. Department of Fisheries, WA
31. Department of Justice and Regulation (Consumer Affairs), VIC
32. Department of Justice and Regulation (Sheriff of Victoria), VIC
33. Department of Mines and Petroleum, WA
34. Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), NSW
35. Environment Protection Authority, SA
36. Greyhound Racing Victoria, VIC
37. Harness Racing New South Wales, NSW
38. Health Care Complaints Commission, NSW
39. Legal Services Board, VIC
40. NSW Environment Protection Authority, NSW
41. NSW Fair Trading, NSW
42. Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW
43. Office of Fair Trading (Department of Justice And Attorney-General Office of the Director General), QLD
44. Office of State Revenue, NSW
45. Office of State Revenue, QLD
46. Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner, VIC
47. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), SA
48. Queensland Building and Construction Commission, QLD
49. Racing and Wagering Western Australia, WA
50. Racing NSW, NSW
51. Racing Queensland, QLD
52. Roads and Maritime Services NSW, NSW
53. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), VIC
54. State Revenue Office, VIC
55. Taxi Services Commission, VIC
56. RevenueSA, SA
57. Victorian WorkSafe Authority, VIC

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Henry Sapiecha

Internet Firms Warn UK Against ‘Dangerous’ Changes To Law

electricity background red pink surreal image www.intelagencies.com

Major U.S. Internet companies have urged the British government to reconsider a plan to make telecommunications firms help spies hack into computers and phones.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill would require telecoms companies to keep records of customers’ Web histories for up to a year, and to help security services gain access to suspects’ electronic devices.

In a joint submission to a committee of British lawmakers, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said that “to the extent this could involve the introduction of risks or vulnerabilities into products or services, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set.”

They urged the government to reconsider, and warned against changes that would weaken online encryption, which they called a “fundamental security tool.”

The submission was made last month and published Thursday by the committee, which is reviewing the proposed legislation.

Apple has also objected to the British proposals, saying they could weaken online security by providing a backdoor to users’ data for “bad guys” as well as “good guys.”

The British government insists the bill won’t weaken or ban online encryption.

If approved by Parliament, the bill will let police and spies access Internet connection records — a list of websites, apps and messaging services someone has visited, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

Civil liberties groups have also expressed alarm at the bill. A previous version of the legislation was thrown out by lawmakers in 2013 as overly intrusive.

The government says it will set out final proposals in the spring.

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Henry Sapiecha

Britain Seeks Greater Access To Citizens’ Online Activity

Cybersecurity image www.intelagencies.com

The British government plans to make telecommunication firms keep records of every website that customers visit under a new law regulating cyber-snooping.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill is designed to regulate authorities’ access to Internet activity, replacing a patchwork of laws, some dating from the Web’s infancy.

Home Secretary Theresa May said Wednesday that the bill would let police and spies access Internet connection records – a list of websites and social media apps someone has visited, though not the individual pages they looked at or messages they sent.

May said the data was “simply the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill,” but civil liberties groups say it marks a big expansion of snooping powers.

The bill will be reviewed by legislators before it’s submitted to Parliament for approval.

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Henry Sapiecha

UN Experts Warn About British Investigatory Powers Bill

circuit board large blue image www.intelagencies.com

U.N. human rights experts say a legislative bill in Britain aimed at increasing powers of authorities to monitor suspects could threaten freedom of expression and association.

Three United Nations experts say the Investigatory Powers Bill would give British officials too much authority to carry out surveillance and store information on people, without enough oversight and transparency.

The office of the U.N. human rights chief said Monday the experts sent a six-page letter to a British parliamentary panel insisting that the measure could “ultimately stifle fundamental freedoms” such as by preventing individuals from ever knowing that they are under surveillance.

Civil liberties groups and Internet companies have also expressed alarm at the bill that would make telecommunications firms help spies hack into computers and phones, and store customers’ Web-surfing histories.

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Henry Sapiecha

Anonymous hacks Thai police websites to protest Myanmar workers’ death penalties

anonymous screen logo image www.intelagencies.com

This image was displayed on some Thai police websites. Photo: http://technology.sochoto.police.go.th/south/

  • Australian scientist questions DNA evidence

Bangkok: Hackers have attacked Thai police websites in protest the trial of two Myanmar migrant workers sentenced to death last month for the murders of two British tourists.

The international hacking group Anonymous said on its Facebook page that 14 Thai police websites had been attacked. Of those it listed, nine were inaccessible on Tuesday.

READ MORE HERE

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Henry Sapiecha

MORE ABOUT THE DARK WEB

What is the dark web?

guy_desktopIf you spend most of your screen time loitering on Facebook, Snapchat and email then you’ve only ever scratched the surface of the internet. There is an additional layer known as the dark web that allows people to circumvent surveillance and move around online without traceability. The original software, The Onion Router (TOR), was developed by US Naval Research Laboratory employees Paul Syverson, Michael Reed and David Goldschlag in the mid 1990s to protect the identity of US Navy intelligenceagents.

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Henry Sapiecha