South African Spooks ‘spied on own govt’

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South African Spooks ‘spied on own govt’ to glean info on satellite program with Russia

from RT.com:

South Africa’s intelligence agency unearthed information about a covert satellite surveillance program between Pretoria and Moscow with the help of a mole with “direct access to the Russian government,” leaked cables reveal.

The $100 million (£65 million) surveillance satellite system, codenamed Project Condor, was launched into orbit by Russia in December 2014. Initially shrouded in secrecy, with Moscow refusing to reveal the identity of its client, details have since emerged of Pretoria’s involvement in the program with Moscow, according to leaked spy cables obtained by Al-Jazeera and shared with The Guardian.

The leaked intelligence document, dated August 28, 2012, relies on information provided by an agent, codenamed “Agent Africanist,” whose involvement in the program gave South Africa’s intelligence agency top secret details of the satellite surveillance system, which provides “coverage of the entire African continent.”

Project Condor would give South Africa the ability to “conduct its own aerial surveillance in Africa, potentially right up to Israel for strategic military purposes.”

The briefing from Agent Africanist details changes with regards to the degree of cooperation between South Africa and Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, and its deployments in the country.

“Project Condor is regarded as a significant part of the envisaged strategic cooperation” between Moscow and Pretoria, the leaked document claims. “Currently, there are 30 Russian technicians working in South Africa in close cooperation with South African authorities on the project.”

To complement Project Condor, the intelligence document mentioned another satellite system being developed “simultaneously” by Moscow. “The aim is to eventually integrate the two satellite systems and capabilities providing wider strategic coverage with obvious benefits for both countries,” the intelligence document said.

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