The US Supreme Court considered whether shadowy spy deals should ever end up in federal court, hearing the case of former Soviet-bloc spies who claim the CIA stiffed them on a pledge of lifetime support. \nAt issue is a 130-year-old Supreme Court ruling that said former spies may not sue the US government because of the secret nature of their pacts, which are made with the understanding that "the lips of the other were to be forever sealed." \nMost justices on Tuesday appeared reluctant to support the couple's lawsuit against the CIA. They noted that not only spies but government officials accept they might be backstabbed when making the clandestine deals. \n"Suppose a former spy is alleged to breach an agreement by writing or publishing a tell-all book. Would the government be without recourse?" asked Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, to whom the government lawyers said yes. \nTaking up O'Connor's point, Justice Antonin Scalia observed: "The government can't enforce the contract, either. You take the bad with the good." \nThe case involves a former high-ranking diplomat and his wife, identified in filings only as John and Jane Doe, who wanted to defect from their country but were pressured by US authorities to instead spy for them, according to the lawsuit. In exchange, the CIA promised to provide them lifetime security. \nWhen their spying was over in 1987, the CIA helped them resettle in Seattle with new identities, benefits and a bank job for the husband, the suit says. They received a US$27,000 yearly stipend and became US citizens. \nThe CIA stopped the subsidy when John Doe's salary from the bank hit $27,000, the suit says, but the two were promised the agency would "always be there." However, the couple claims, when Doe lost his job in 1997, the CIA refused to reinstate the stipend, saying the couple had received enough pay for their spy services. \nWhen the Does filed suit, the CIA pointed to the 1875 Supreme Court ruling in Totten v. United States, which found that a dispute between President Abraham Lincoln and a Civil War spy could not be litigated because of the risk to national security and foreign policy. \nThe San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the Does had a right to obtain documents and other information from the CIA to build their trial case. It said recent rulings have allowed litigation to continue in national security cases if the government doesn't show a clear risk. \nDuring oral arguments, the couple's attorney, David Burman, contended that the executive branch should not have the power to renege on spy contracts without some judicial review. Sensitive information could be kept secret by sealing records or other methods, he said. \n"This is not about the protection of state secrets but the limits of executive power," Burman said. \nActing Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that the spy lawsuits should be dismissed outright because the risk of disclosure could undermine CIA recruitment efforts. \n"There's something inherent about an espionage relationship that you understand you have no protected status under the law," Clement said. \nThe case is Tenet v. Doe. A ruling is expected by late June.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures