The European Co-operation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG-UA) is an informal police network which facilitates the co-ordination and exchange of undercover police across Europe. Its areas of concern include of political dissent and organised crime. It came to light following questions by MP Andrej Hunko to the German Parliament about the activities of UK undercover officer Mark Kennedy in that country, though still little is known of it.
Mark Kennedy abroad
The role of UK undercover officer Mark Kennedy was raised at the ECG 2011 meeting after his exposure in late 2010. Kennedy’s first known overseas operation began with a visit to German in 2004, which happens to be in months following the creation of the ECG-UA’s ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. Not much later, in 2005, five German undercovers were seconded to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPIOU – Kennedy’s unit) to police the G8 protests at Gleneagles – where Kennedy was also active. Kennedy also spend
time in Denmark, another ECG-UA country, first visiting in January 2007.
It is also known that Kennedy operated in France; in June 2008 he was passing information on French activists to the Central Directorate of General Intelligence (DST). A French investigative reporter who reconstructed Kennedy’s operation in that country quotes a police lieutenant, who requested to remain anonymous:
A DST officer told me that Mark Stone informed them. According to him, the British secret services warned the DST that their officer was working on French territory. As a courtesy, they asked the DST if they wanted to use his information. A French desk officer from the counter-terrorism branch was assigned to him. He briefed him on a regular basis.
According to my contact at the DST, Stone was seen as a brilliant expert in the field of European ultra-left movements. For the French services, since 2005 or so, these movements constitute a new kind of terrorist threat, and with regard to terrorism, there is no insignificant information.
Overall, Kennedy visited at least 11 different countries while undercover, while others have indicated it might be as high as 22. On leaving his undercover work, Kennedy applied for a position with intelligence agency Stratfor, in which he highlighted his ‘expertise regarding domestic extremism and political activism from across Europe.'
The unit that Kennedy worked for, the NPOIU was merged with others in 2011 to form the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit under the aegis of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command. Following the exposure of Kennedy and other officers it was stripped of its powers to run undercover officers. However, writing in 2014, the Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, Cressida Dick, stated:
… we remain cognisant of the threat from individuals who engage in terrorist activity in the name of Extreme Right or Left wing views or other ideologies. The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU) sets the national strategic direction for understanding extremist threats to the UK. It has a wide range of international partners which it works with, particularly law enforcement and security agencies in Europe. Furthermore it enables us to understand and respond more effectively to the nexus of terrorism and hate crime. For this reason Domestic Extremism policing remains an integral part of CT and wider law enforcement activity.
Other undercovers operating on an international level
Questions by Andrej Hunko and other Green Party members to the German government revealed the existence of cross border police co-operation on transnational ‘Euro-anarchism’ since 2007. In particular, the German Federal Government has been gathering data on ‘travelling violent criminals’ associated with left wing demonstrations and exchanged information with France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and the UK. How exactly the ECG-UA fits in this co-operation is unclear, but Kennedy was not the only undercover officer operating at an international level.
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