- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

LONDON — British spies across the Balkans are being moved after they were publicly identified in several news reports planted by disgruntled local intelligence services.

Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, has been forced to withdraw its chief officer in the Serb capital, Belgrade, and another spy in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, is about to leave.

A third man, who also has been branded a British spy in the Balkans, this week left the office of the High Representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, to take up a post elsewhere.

Another two British intelligence officers working in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, so far have remained in place despite their cover being blown in the local press.

The series of exposes in the three capitals has markedly undermined British intelligence operations in the Balkans, previously thought to have played a vital role in the transfer of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

But the continuing efforts of MI6 officers to capture The Hague’s most-wanted men have riled many intelligence agencies in the Balkans, some of which are suspected of continuing ties to suspected war criminals.

MI6 is heavily involved in the hunt for former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who are linked to a range of war crimes.

Those include killing Srebrenica’s surrendering male population and organizing the siege of Sarajevo.

Also being sought is the main Croatian war crimes suspect, Ante Gotovina, who is accused of forcing 150,000 Serbs from their homes in 1995.

“MI6 operated not so much a spy network as a network of influence within Balkan security services and the media,” said James Lyon, director of the International Crisis Group in Serbia and Bosnia. “It is some of those people who are now upset.”

In Serbia, MI6 station chief Anthony Monckton was forced to leave his post last month, after a campaign against him led by the country’s DB intelligence agency, where his work investigating the 2003 assassination of reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic won him few friends.

In Croatia, the willingness of the government to accede to British requests to bring eavesdropping equipment into the country and launch large-scale listening campaigns in the hunt for war criminals has irked elements of its counterintelligence service, the POA.

In both countries, senior local officials are thought to have leaked the names of the British spies to newspapers and magazines, which then printed their details.

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