A republican from County Armagh is taking legal action after he found a surveillance device hidden in his car. The man from Lurgan, who does not want to be named, is a member of Republican Network for Unity.
He discovered battery packs and a transmitter hidden behind the rear bumper of his car. They are thought to have been attached to a listening device hidden somewhere in the car.
He also found a GPS device which would have allowed his car to be tracked and for people to hear conversations inside the vehicle. The man revealed that the bugs were planted after he refused to work as an informer.
Two men claiming to be members of the British ‘security services’ approached him at Belfast international Airport in April, as he waited to fly to Spain with his wife, and asked him if he would work for them.
“This is not the work of ordinary police officers. This is clearly the work of [police] Special Branch, MI5, the army or a combination of all of them,” he said.
The man said he had been continually harassed since he refused to work for the British forces.
“My house has been raided three times in recent weeks, my car has been bugged and I’m watched every time I step outside my front door,” he said.
The man brought the surveillance equipment to a solicitor in Belfast last week.
“We do not know who is responsible for planting these devices so are making complaints to the ombudsman and the body set up to investigate allegations against the security services,” his lawyer, Kevin Winters, said.
“This kind of activity represents one of the worst types of oppressive state interference in a person’s rights to privacy it also puts his life at risk as he was previously asked to work as an informer.”
RNU spokesman Carl Reilly said the planting of the surveillance device represented a worrying upsurge in covert activity by the intelligence agencies.
“What we don’t know is who was responsible for placing this device and for what purpose information on this man and his family was being gathered,” he said.
“Whether it was British Army or special branch who place it there is representative that the dark side of political policing is still alive and well here in the north.”
The Irish Republican Socialist Party said a party member had also recently been approached to become a spy, when he was detained by PSNI while getting off a flight from Glasgow.
Taken to a room to have his bags searched, two individuals entered and said “we believe you are in a unique position to help us”. After being challenged to identify themselves, the two individuals replied they were representatives of GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters, a British Intelligence Agency.
On hearing this the IRSP member immediately asked if he was under arrest, the party said. When he was told no, he immediately left the room.
“The IRSP member acted in the correct manner”, said spokesman Michael McLaughlin.
“He did not engage in conversation and left the situation immediately as your every word and action is analysed for signs of weakness. He immediately contacted friends and the IRSP to inform them of the incident. This is how British Intelligence must be dealt with.
“British intelligence in Ireland never sleeps and works hand in hand with the PSNI at every level. You are not obligated by any law to pass on information or to spy for them they cannot arrest or detain you. They may offer you a financial incentive to spy on your friends, family or community but history has shown once you fulfil their needs you are expendable.”