Friday, November 24, 2006

Spy Ring

Those who may be tempted to write off the poisoning of a former spy as a one-off incident might want to look across the Atlantic, to Canada.

When Hampel was arrested, he was carrying what the Toronto Star has described as "the signature tools of a 21st century secret agent." Among the items seized: $7,800 in five different currencies, several bank and credit cards, three cellular phones, password-encrypted SIM cards, two digital cameras, a short wave radio and a fake Ontario birth certificate. And he was traveling under the third Canadian passport he had been issued since 1995.

Russia is doing its best to flex its muscles again. Or so it would seem.

The most interesting angle on this, however, seems to be the implications for the criminal justice system. The suspect is being denied access to some of the evidence against him on national security grounds. And the article linked to above suggests that the Canadian government may seize on this as justifying further legislation. I'll look into this further, and if there's anything in it, I'll write a bit more about it.

For now, though, the most amusing story I've heard concerning this is that Hampel was allegedly caught with a lot of Canadian cheat sheets. A primer in the basic facts of Canadian history. I suspect this guy might be, in the words of Andrew Mackinlay, a piece of fluff. Thrown up by the Russians to hide something a lot more sinister.