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Tuesday, October 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Syrian indicted for spying on activists in U.S. protesting Assad crackdown

WASHINGTON — The United States has charged a Syrian with spying on the opposition to President Bashar Assad.


A federal grand jury handed down an indictment against a Syrian with U.S. citizenship who lives near Washington. They said Mohammed Anas Haitham Soueid monitored the activities of anti-Assad protesters in the United States.

"Today's indictment alleges that the defendant acted as an unregistered agent of the Syrian government as part of an effort to collect information on people in this country protesting the Syrian government crackdown," Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Oct. 12.

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The six-count indictment was announced more than three months after the United States warned that Assad was trying to intimidate anti-regime activists, Middle East Newsline reported. Assad agents were said to have monitored protests and intimidated relatives of opposition activists in Syria.

Prosecutors said Soueid, who faces 15 years in prison, worked for the Assad regime and obtained video and audio recordings of opposition members for Syrian intelligence. They said he also supplied e-mail addresses and phone numbers of opposition activists in the United States.

"Spying for another country is a serious threat to our national security, especially when it threatens the ability of U.S. citizens to engage in political speech within our own borders," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.

Soueid was also said to have recruited Americans to work for Syrian intelligence to monitor the opposition. In June, the indictment said, Soueid was ordered to fly to Syria where he met Assad.

The indictment said Soueid was supervised by an unidentified Syrian intelligence official known only as an unindicted co-conspirator. The intelligence official was said to have urged Soueid to continue his monitoring despite interrogation by the FBI.

"The FBI will be counted on to detect and deter unregistered agents who attempt clandestine activities on behalf of a foreign political power and work to bring them swiftly to justice," FBI assistant director James McJunkin said.

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