Another apparent revelation by the Al Jazeera/Guardian Spy Cables has led long-time spy satellite seeker after the truth, David Maynier, to ask whether the State Security Agency (SSA) was collecting intelligence on a Defence Intelligence satellite surveillance programme.
Maynier, who heads up the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party’s defence portfolio in Parliament and is also deputy shadow minister in intelligence matters, said the most recent release of information by the Al Jazeera investigative unit showed alleged “extensive co-operation” between Russia and South Africa on a secret satellite surveillance programme.
“A South African Secret Service, now State Security Agency (Foreign Branch), ‘Intelligence Information Report’ dated August 28, 2012, and classified ‘Top Secret’ reveals significant new information on strategic co-operation between Russia and South Africa.
“The SSA’s information report reveals for the first time: that Russia and South Africa were co-operating on a secret satellite surveillance programme, codenamed Project Condor; that the satellite surveillance programme was to be used for strategic military purposes; that the satellite surveillance programme would eventually culminate in the launch of a satellite by Russia on behalf of South Africa; that the aim was eventually to integrate the Russian and South African satellite surveillance programmes to provide wider coverage; and that 30 Russian technicians were working on the satellite surveillance programme in South Africa.
“Until now there has been no information about ‘Project Condor’ in the public domain,” he said adding the satellite launch reference “almost certainly” refers to Defence Intelligence’s R1.4 billion Kondor-E synthetic aperture radar satellite, “launched on or about December 19 last year under the codename Project Flute”.
“Bizarrely, it appears SSA could have been collecting intelligence about a Defence Intelligence satellite surveillance programme.
“We cannot confirm all the information in the report is accurate but it certainly suggests co-operation between Russia and South Africa on the satellite surveillance programme appears to have been more advanced and carried out on a larger scale, than previously thought,” Maynier said.