British Intelligence Services fear the lives of their agents have been put at risk by the publishing of a top-secret MI5 report on an American internet site.
They claim that the document gives enough detail for hostile agencies to identify MI6 spies who have given information. The 14-page report examines Libyan intelligence penetration in Britain during the mid-1990s and, for example, cites detailed information from three MI6 sources in the Libyan community in Britain.
Whitehall sources say that the systematic leaking of sensitive documents is not only damaging national security but the credibility of British intelligence with allies and deterring potential informants coming forward with information about terrorism and serious crime. "The posting of these documents is pure recklessness - putting lives in danger and has nothing to do with whistleblowing," a source said.
The British authorities' prime suspect for the leaks is the renegade MI5 officer David Shayler, who lives in Paris. He agrees that the publishing of the report puts lives at risk but denies he was responsible. "I condemn the appearance of this document on the Net," he said. "It is clear that the Libyan Intelligence Services will be able to identify MI5 and MI6 agents from the information disclosed here."
He said the leak was a result of the Labour Government failing to address his complaints about the security services, and it was time they "stopped playing politics with the lives of MI5 and MI6 agents in Libya".
The MI5 report is the most highly classified to have been leaked. It is marked "Secret & Personal" and "Top Secret Delicate Source UK Eyes A". The classification "UK Eyes Alpha" means the report is not even supposed to be seen by officials of the CIA or other American intelligence agencies. Yet it now sits on the internet for all to read, including the Libyan Intelligence Service.
The document reveals the extensive scale of telephone tapping - referred to as telechecks - on Libyan diplomats and their contacts in Libya and Britain. It shows the MI6 knew that the head of Libyan Intelligence in the UK, Khalifa Ahmad Bazelya, transferred Libyan funds through a British journalist to an "unknown destination". It says that since 1993 large sums of money have passed through Libyan intelligence accounts and from Bazelya's personal account to a British journalist who then passed them on.
A main surveillance target, pretending to be a potential recruit, Bazelya seems to have evaded MI5 to conduct all manner of intelligence operations in Britain and Ireland.
The report recommends Bazelya being designated a "persona non grata". "Bazelya is the focal point for Libyan intelligence in the UK and is becoming increasingly active in his own right. His continued presence in the UK can only serve to facilitate further intelligence activity." He was deported in December 1995.
The MI5 report is the latest in a series of leaks that have appeared on the internet and in the media, causing Britain's intelligence agencies great embarrassment. Their relationship with American, Canadian, Australian and EU intelligence agencies is being damaged, according to inside sources.
The D-Notice committee has asked that neither the original website address nor the document be published in the UK.
Mr Shayler suggests that there may be another renegade MI5 officer who is posting documents to support his claim that Britain's intelligence services are out of control. He said: "The appearance of this document has damaged national security to a far greater extent than I have ever done.When the government refused to take my evidence and then lied to the British people it took an enormous risk that others within the intelligence services would seek to make sure the public were reliably informed.
"It is time the Labour Government stopped playing politics with the lives of MI5 and MI6 agents in Libya. It should allow me to return ... to give my evidence without my being arrested and prosecuted."Reuse content