Chinese authorities are believed to be spying on companies involved in genealogy and medical research in Iceland, as stated in documents sent by the US Embassy in Reykjavík to the US Foreign Service in Washington, leaked by Wikileaks.
From deCODE Genetic's lab. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
This is stated in a report from February 26, 2009, which is marked as “confidential”. Copies of it were sent to the CIA, FBI and DIA, Fréttabladid reports.
In another report from December 24, 2009, also marked as “confidential”, an annual meeting of the US Embassy’s counter-spying group directed by the ambassador’s substitute Sam Watson is covered.
The report states that US authorities believe that their Chinese counterparts have continued with their intellectual spying in Iceland, by means of human intelligence and with technical equipment, such as bugging telephone lines and breaking into databases on the internet.
The report also says that Russian authorities are following the Chinese spying. The substitute of the Russian Ambassador to Iceland, Valery I. Birjúkov, is considered an expert in Chinese affairs as he used to work in China on behalf of the Soviet Foreign Service in the 1980s.
Kári Stefánsson, CEO and co-founder of deCODE Genetics, told Fréttabladid that his employees have searched thoroughly for a possible outflow of information from their databases but haven’t found any indication of it.
However, he intends to contact the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police to consult with them on how to react to the US Embassy’s suspicion. He is also planning to seek information from US authorities on which their suspicion is based.
“What disturbs me a little is that a more than vivid imagination is needed to think that genealogy research in Iceland is being spied on if there is nothing behind it,” Stefánsson said.
He said one of the company’s employees is Chinese but he has lived here for 14 years and considers Iceland his home.
Minister of Justice Ögmundur Jónasson doubts that any measures will be undertaken in reaction to the US Embassy’s speculations. “I haven’t received any other evidence of it, no solid proof,” he said.
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