Contact with foreign relatives, or other
persons in foreign countries to whom you have ties of affection, influence, or obligation,
can be a security concern -- especially if those persons are in a country known to conduct
intelligence operations against the United States. The greater your value as an
intelligence target, the more likely these persons will be exploited to gain information
about you. The more vulnerable they are to coercion, exploitation, or pressure (for
example, they work for the government or are dependent upon the government in any other
way), the more likely they are to be used for this purpose.
The likelihood that a foreign security or
intelligence service will develop interest in you may be increased by actions you take
that draw the services attention to your ties of affection for or obligation to one
of its citizens. This includes regular mail or telephone contact, sending packages or
money or medicine, or visiting a foreign relative or associate. The more frequent and
extensive the contact, or the stronger the apparent ties of affection or obligation, the
greater the chances that the contact will come to the attention of and be exploited by the
foreign security or intelligence service.
If the foreign security or intelligence
service identifies you as a target, they may seek to assess your vulnerabilities and
gradually draw you into a web of compromising circumstances. Indications that such a
process may be underway include:
- Suspected delay or tampering with mail to or
from foreign correspondents.
- Suspected monitoring of telephone calls to or
from foreign relatives or associates.
- Discreet or official inquiries to the foreign
relative or associate about you.
- Any unusual contact with police or security
authorities during foreign travel, especially foreign officials contacting you under any
pretext while you are visiting with relatives in the foreign country.
- The foreign relative or associate advising you
of any type of difficulty with local authorities, or asking for money or medicine under
circumstances that seem the least bit unusual.
If a foreign intelligence or security
service can manipulate you into sending or transporting money, medicine, or goods to a
foreign relative, this confirms your sense of obligation to help the relative. If you send
or transport the money, medicine, or goods through illegal channels, the relative is
subject to arrest and, therefore, vulnerable to duress. If you can be made to believe the
relatives problems with the authorities are your fault, this creates an even greater
sense of obligation. If you send money, medicine, or gifts through illegal channels, the
security service also has a basis for detaining and questioning you during your visit to
that country. If you fail to report such developments to U.S. security authorities, you
take the first step on a path toward concealing a relationship with a foreign intelligence
or security service.
Related Topics: Avoiding/Recognizing Foreign Intelligence Interest,
and How Do I Know When I'm Being Targeted