Chinese espionage activity was growing in the Czech Republic last year, especially in the academic community, security forces, and civil service, according to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) report for 2018.
According to the BIS, China has successfully established a network of people willing to cooperate. In recent years, pro-Russian agents have also been increasingly and systematically agitating against the political order in the Czech Republic, as well as the membership of Czechia in the EU and NATO.
On the other hand, the traditional extremist community and activity from anarchist groups stagnated last year.
In addition to Chinese and Russian activities, the BIS did not detect any other serious hostile foreign intelligence activities, except for Iran.
Among other things, the counterintelligence service of the Czech Republic repeated its warning about accepting invitations to training sessions or seminars in China. The BIS determined that Chinese counterintelligence is increasing its efforts to find and contact potential collaborators among Czech citizens. The Czech intelligence agency points out that even Chinese diplomats are part of the issue.
According to the BIS, the excessively staffed Russian embassy in the Czech Republic is a problem as well. Russian intelligence services, which also operated in the country last year, aim to manipulate decision-making processes at all government levels.
Nevertheless, the expulsion of three Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in the UK has weakened the Russian counterintelligence activities in the Czech Republic.
According to Jiří Ovčáček, the spokesman of President Zeman, it is unacceptable for the BIS to identify people with different opinions as potential spies or individuals spreading disinformation.
“This is an attack on the freedom of speech,” said Ovčáček.
President Miloš Zeman has been criticizing the Czech Security Information Service for some time and was skeptical of its warning of Russian and Chinese influences in the past.