How CIA spies move freely through Europe on fake passports
Leaked documents show US agents can easily enter the EU but are concerned about tightening security next year
Secret CIA documents advising undercover American spies on how to move through Europe on fake passports have been published online, revealing growing concern that tighter EU rules could blow the cover of US intelligence agents.
Two documents released by WikiLeaks show that CIA agents are currently able to freely enter and travel through the 26 countries of the Schengen Area with only a “minimal” risk that EU border guards will grow suspicious.
There is little chance of being detected when first entering the Schengen Area because European border guards are focused on “illegal immigration and criminal activities, not counterintelligence”, the CIA documents concluded.
However, US spies are worried about an EU plan to force travellers to give their fingerprints and have a photo taken when they first arrive at Europe’s border. The CIA said the new system, due to come online in 2015, “would increase the identity threat” for its agents travelling undercover.
Under the current rules, CIA agents travelling on fake US passports can enter any one of the Schengen countries without a visa and then move across Europe from Portugal to Finland without being asked for their documents.
Britain is not part of the Schengen Area, where travellers can cross borders without showing passports, but the documents suggest CIA spies would be similarly untroubled by British border security.
On one of the few occasions a CIA agent was challenged it appears he was stopped because he looked too scruffy to be a US diplomat travelling on a diplomatic passport.
“Overly-casual dress inconsistent with being a diplomatic passport holder may have prompted the referral,” the CIA noted.
The unnamed officer was pulled into secondary screening by European security guards who found that his bag tested positive for traces of explosives.
The agent stuck to his cover story and said he had been involved in a counter-terrorism exercise in the US but the Europeans remained suspicious and concluded he was “being evasive and had trained in a terrorist camp”.
Despite their concerns, they let the veteran agent continue on his journey.
Excerpt from CIA document on secondary screening at airports:
The documents from 2011 and 2012 also offer some general, and perhaps condescendingly obvious, advice to American spies pulled in for additional screening.
“Although a certain degree of nervousness is expected, persistent indications of deceptive behaviour will almost certainly extend the secondary interview,” the document notes.
It also advises spies not to pay cash for one-way tickets or to buy tickets at the airport because such behaviour will likely raise suspicions.