A Portuguese intelligence official caught passing secret information to his Russian spy handler may have been encouraged to engage in espionage due to his relationships with Russian women.
Frederico Carvalhao of the Portuguese Security Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency may have been victim of what is called in the espionage world a “honeypot” trap, according to reports. Carvalhao was known for having relationships with women of Russian and Eastern European background. The honeypot trap is a tactic that involves convincing a victim to engage in espionage activities by exploiting them through romantic and sexual relationships.
Although the tactic is a common theme in fictional spy novels, there have also been several examples of it in real world situations.
Carvalhao had been on the radar of counter-intelligence units for around a year. He flew to Rome for what he thought was going to be a routine meeting with his Russian handler, little did he know Portuguese intelligence officials, in conjunction with Italian security officials, were already lying in wait to catch him.
Carvalhao was caught in the act of providing the Russian with secret information related to the European Union and NATO. Because the Russian was operating under non-official cover, he too was arrested due to the fact he had no diplomatic immunity. It is usually common practice for many intelligence officers abroad to operate under what is called “official cover,” which allows them to be covered by diplomatic immunity should they be caught engaging in espionage activities.
It is believed that Carvalhao was making around $11,000 for each piece of information he provided to the Russian intelligence officer.
“As a result of excellent coordination between the public prosecutor, the judicial police and the SIS, and the level of international cooperation with the Italian authorities, two people were arrested in Rome for alleged espionage crimes, corruption and violation of state secrecy,” said a statement released by Portuguese police.
Johnathan Schindler, a former NSA analyst with experience in counter-intelligence, believes the Carvalhao case corresponds with Russia’s increased aggression in Europe.
“The case of Frederico Carvalhão demonstrates that Moscow is still stealing our secrets at every opportunity,” wrote Schindler in the Observer Wednesday. “The West ignores counterintelligence, particularly against an increasingly aggressive Russia, at its peril.”
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