A top aide to Gordon Brown has been a suspected victim of a “honeytrap” operation by Chinese intelligence agents.
The aide, a senior Downing Street adviser who was with the prime minister on a trip to China earlier this year, had his BlackBerry phone stolen after being picked up by a Chinese woman who had approached him in a Shanghai hotel disco.
The aide agreed to return to his hotel with the woman. He reported the BlackBerry missing the next morning.
The aide, whose identity is known to The Sunday Times, immediately reported the theft to the prime minister’s Special Branch protection team and was informally reprimanded.
A senior official said yesterday that the incident had all the hallmarks of a suspected honeytrap by Chinese intelligence. The incident will raise fresh questions about the security of sensitive official information. It follows a spate of high-profile cases where data from government departments have been lost.
BlackBerrys are used as mobile telephones and also store data and send and receive e-mails. Downing Street BlackBerrys are password-protected but security officials said most are not encrypted.
I don't think encryption would have helped much--it's not going to stop an intelligence agency from getting at what's on it, especially the Chinese. If this was a case where a randy aide went back to his hotel with a woman that he shouldn't have, that's an opportunity to remind people that they can be targeted by intelligence agents. Was there a briefing? Did this individual get fired? How did the British handle this, I wonder.
And that reminds me of the case of the DC Madam--and why it was so critical to know who her clients were and why their security clearances should have been revoked for paying for sex.