Under A Watchful Eye: Cyber Surveillance in Cuba 1

In Cuba the possibility of state surveillance is never far away. (Photo: IWPR)

Public access to the internet has increased, but the state remains vigilant.
By Yoe Suárez, Institute For War & Peace Reporting

Álvaro felt like a spy during his four years working as a network administrator at the state news agency Prensa Latina (PL).

“Part of my work was maintaining computers,” he explained. “But sometimes my boss ordered me to monitor what a reporter or worker was Googling or looking at.”

Although this was not among the duties that he had signed up for when he joined the country’s most important news agency, Álvaro never questioned his superior’s orders.

“Then, I’d see the people that I’d been monitoring in the lunchroom or on the street and I felt terrible,” he said. “I tried to act naturally but I couldn’t stop thinking about the personal things I knew about them.”

In an office behind closed doors, Álvaro accessed other people’s computers, taking screenshots that he then filed. Sometimes he accessed private emails or instant messages during the screening process. The assignments even included monitoring the private communications of journalists about to travel outside Cuba as PL correspondents.

“It was a way of making sure that they wouldn’t abandon the ‘mission’ or make contact with inappropriate people abroad,” he said.

Ahead of trips abroad, reporters had to go through a verification process that included interviews with the heads of whatever political organizations they belonged to, references from the leaders of their Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, and a final verification from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Once deemed trustworthy, the reporters still had to go through the final filter of cyber surveillance at their place of work.

“In political and social organisations, people are being constantly evaluating others and it’s taken into account for anything, from getting a university position to deciding if you can be trusted for a job,” said Jesús Adonis Martínez, the agency’s correspondent in Caracas for two years. “In a totalitarian country everyone’s tracks are filed away.”

“There is even more surveillance for journalists who have collaborated with foreign or independent media,” added Álvaro, who asked to remain anonymous even though he no longer works for the agency.

“What they made me do was wrong,” he concluded.

Article continues here: Cyber-spying 

Advertisements

US Honors Sergeant For Role in Cuban Spy Case 8

Master Sergeant Tessa M. Fontaine

Master Sergeant Tessa M. Fontaine

By Chris Simmons

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) awarded its Bronze Medal to Master Sergeant Tessa M. Fontaine for helping lead a counterespionage investigation that resulted in a 13-year sentence for an unidentified Cuban spy. Then assigned as the chief of NRO’s Counterintelligence and Cyber-Counterintelligence Inquiries, her spy case protected a five-billion dollar intelligence system. As part of this investigation, Fontaine also orchestrated 148 hours of spy debriefings and documented 16 hours of Cuban espionage operations. The Air Force subsequently named her Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. She now serves at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

No further information is available at this time.

(Corrected) Editor’s Note:  The NRO designs, builds, launches, and maintains all US spy satellites. Cuba has no space program and its military infrastructure is grossly outdated, rendering it of little interest to NRO. As NRO poses no threat to the Castro regime, it would  seem that Havana would have NO interest in NRO. Very curious….