British intelligence agents have been recorded making an overt approach to a former prisoner in Belfast City Centre, just days after he lost his job in a call center due to ‘security reasons’, according to the Republican Network for Unity.
The approach began when the target was making his way across Queen’s Bridge, when he noticed a man gesturing in his direction. The former prisoner who was recently released from Maghaberry, walked on a few steps before his path was blocked by two more men.
Speaking in English accents, both men then identified themselves plainly as ‘MI5’ before attempting to speak to their target about his RNU membership and the ‘tough week he had’.
In a tense exchange, he told both agents that he had ‘done six years for keeping his mouth shut and wasn’t going to start talking now’.
Although threatening him with being returned to prison and suggesting that he ‘could make money by helping them’, the target refused to co-operate. But later in the afternoon, he began to receive phone calls from a man with an English accent who identified himself as ‘Adam’ and ‘the man on the bridge’.
One such contact was recorded by the RNU. In the conversation, which has since been placed online and is available below, the MI5 agent is heard making further promises of financial rewards to a clearly stressed man for informing on his fellow republicans, including a two hundred pound payment for “fifteen minutes” of conversation.
The RNU said a variety of strategies were being used by “spooks” to monitor and disrupt republican activism after it emerged in court this week that airborne drones are being deployed by British military specialists to record the movements of republicans.
“Coming in the wake of other recent approaches - made to student members - RNU encourage all activists to be vigilant at this time,” the group said in a statement.
“It is clear from the nature of this approach that not only are phone lines being monitored in order to predict movements, but that circumstances of employment may well be under scrutiny in order to create hardship and place people in precarious situations.
“We encourage all those who have been approached in this way to come forward to us in confidence.”