“My first thinking was, ‘Whoa, this person just kind of asked me to spy for the U.S. government.’ And I’m here as part of a program that is supposed to encourage solidarity and people-to-people exchange.”
Alex van Schaick — Former Fulbright scholar researching organized labor movements in Bolivia
“Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard’s knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide. For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence.”
Daniel Golden — Investigative journalist
April 6 2018 — Many think of spying as something that happens at foreign embassies and exotic locations, but it may be happening much closer to home, perhaps right under your nose. As VOA’s Tina Trinh reports, spycraft is something that’s happening at universities across the United States, where espionage is often carried out under the guise of global education. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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UPDATE (April 7 2019) — The U.S. intelligence community is placing increased political pressure on American universities with Chinese-government funded partnerships.
On Wednesday (April 3 2019), MIT pulled out of collaborations with Chinese technology companies Huawei and ZTE, and Indiana university permanently shut down their university’s Confucius Institute.
Earlier this year, the Senate released a report on China’s impact on U.S. educational institutions. It warned universities of the potential for Chinese infiltration to influence American’s opinions on china’s economic growth and international security threat.
In 2018, 10 U.S. universities pulled out of their agreements with the Confucius Institute. Since the start of 2019, three other universities have closed their Confucius Institute, and several more have pushed for their campuses to consider pulling out of their partnerships.
END of UPDATE
According to Special Agent Charlie McGonigal — in charge of the counterintelligence division at the FBI’s field office in New York — espionage on campus is a big problem.
“In the United States, our academic institutions are very open,” said McGonigal.
“There’s a lot of research and development at major universities in the United States that a foreign government would look to exploit by sending students to study at these universities.”
“Students are recruited by those governments, and then they’re asked to go and apply for employment with the U.S. government or in a sensitive private sector area where we know those governments are targeting that type of specific information.”
But spy efforts are a two-way street, and the United States is no stranger to intelligence-gathering operations in academia, either.
Alex van Schaick was a Fulbright scholar researching organized labor movements in Bolivia when he met a U.S. government official for what he presumed to be a customary security briefing.
Van Schaick was troubled by the request from the official. “He said, ‘Oh, and if you’re out doing field work out in the countryside, if you run into any Cuban doctors or Venezuelan officials, we’d like you to report their whereabouts back to the U.S. embassy, because we know they’re out there, and we want to keep tabs on them.’” [VOA]
Does this story ring a bell?
Giulio Regeni (15 January 1988 – 1st or 2nd February 2016) went missing in Cairo after speaking to trade union and opposition activists.
His mutilated body was later found on the side of the road. He appeared to have been horribly tortured.
Regeni was a PhD student at Girton College, Cambridge, researching Egypt’s independent trade unions. Why was he murdered? Why a botched investigation? The case was never solved.
RELATED POST: Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? [UPDATE]
Spies on Campus
How intelligence agencies exploit colleges for espionage
Author Daniel Golden won a Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles in the Wall Street Journal exposing the admissions preferences at elite colleges.
Now, his new book, “Spy Schools,” goes into detail on how foreign and domestic intelligence services have turned institutes of higher learning into the front lines of international espionage. Golden joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss the trend and its implications.
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