European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities

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This article is part of the Undercover Research Portal at PowerBase - investigating corporate and police spying on activists.

Part of a series on
Undercover Policing Organisations
European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities
European Coordination Group, European Working Group
An European wide body bringing undercover police specialists to share information on aspects of undercover policing
Parent organisations:
October 2001 to present (2015)

The European Co-operation Group on Undercover Activities (ECG-UA) is an informal police network which facilitates the co-ordination and exchange of undercover police across Europe. Its areas of concern include of political dissent and organised crime. It came to light following questions by MP Andrej Hunko to the German Parliament about the activities of UK undercover officer Mark Kennedy in that country, though still little is known of it.

It is also referred to as the European Working Group on Undercover Activities or European Coordination Group on Undercover Activities.

Formation and membership

The Group was established in October 2001, 'at the suggestion of several national agencies in Western European states that use undercover investigators'.[1] As a pan-European group it included most EU member states along with Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine,[1] indicating that it is working within the larger Council of Europe. This is confirmed by the fact that meetings rotate among EU countries and other member states.[2][3][4] Transnational organisations such as Interpol, Europol, or 'private organisations' do not attend[3] although their participation has been discussed (ECG-UA saw a presentation on a Europol platform for communication).[1]

In Germany, the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA), and the German Customs Investigations Office (Zollkriminalamt - ZKA) take part, as have officers from the Bern Canton of Switzerland.[5] Hunko has the impression that Germany has taken a leading role within the organisation, with four presentations from the German Interior Ministry at one ECG-UA gathering.[6]


The ECG-UA meets annually to discuss 'aspects of international cooperation when undercover investigators are deployed on the basis of case studies' and 'accounts of each country’s national situation'.[1] A key function it provides is international communications on the 'use and exchange of undercover investigators', the main thematic areas of work being organized crime and 'politically motivated' crime.[3] On 7 February 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding for the use of UC (Undercover) Officers was drawn up by a subgroup of the ECG-UA, which formalised the protocols for the use of undercover officers working across borders.[7]

In the answers provided to Andrej Hunko, the German government claimed that the ECG-UA exists purely for communication and has no executive powers, and thus did not engage in operative deployments.[1] However, Hunko and other observers argue there is a case to make that the Group's annual meetings provided the platform through which bilateral or multilateral agreements for the deployment of undercovers officers across borders could be established.[8][3]

Questions by UK MEP Keith Taylor to the European Commission reveal a few further details about the status of the Group:[9]

  • The European Commission is aware of the ECG-UA's existence and understood its purpose to be: looking 'into the exchange of expertise and knowledge on undercover techniques / activities between investigators involved in these activities for law enforcement purposes.'
  • That it is not an EU group but merely established between various national authorities; further, it was neither funded or supported by the European Commission or Europol.
  • In terms of accountability, the member police authorities would be subject to their own national judicial systems in the first instance.

This means there is no legal oversight by the European Parliament or the Council of Europe of the ECG-UA, and also explains why there is relatively little known about the existence and workings of the group.[3]

Undercovers and pan-European protests

A number of undercover officers and state informants have been deployed at international events outside of their own countries, particularly around left-wing counter-summit mobilisations. Their experiences and disclosure were discussed and evaluated within meetings of the ECG-UA.[3] There is no further evidence to date whether the ECG-UA is the key organisation in the pan-European exchange of undercover officers targeting left wing groups or political activists.

Mark Kennedy abroad

The role of UK undercover officer Mark Kennedy was raised at the ECG 2011 meeting after his exposure in late 2010.[1] Kennedy's first known overseas operation began with a visit to German in 2004, which happens to be in months following the creation of the ECG-UA's 'Memorandum of Understanding'. Not much later, in 2005, five German undercovers were seconded to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPIOU - Kennedy's unit) to police the G8 protests at Gleneagles - where Kennedy was also active.[10] Kennedy also spend time in Denmark, another ECG-UA country, first visiting in January 2007.

It is also known that Kennedy operated in France; in June 2008 he was passing information on French activists to the Central Directorate of General Intelligence (DST). A French investigative reporter who reconstructed Kennedy’s operation in that country quotes a police lieutenant, who requested to remain anonymous:[11]

A DST officer told me that Mark Stone informed them. According to him, the British secret services warned the DST that their officer was working on French territory. As a courtesy, they asked the DST if they wanted to use his information. A French desk officer from the counter-terrorism branch was assigned to him. He briefed him on a regular basis.
According to my contact at the DST, Stone was seen as a brilliant expert in the field of European ultra-left movements. For the French services, since 2005 or so, these movements constitute a new kind of terrorist threat, and with regard to terrorism, there is no insignificant information.

Overall, Kennedy visited at least 11 different countries while undercover[12], while others have indicated it might be as high as 22.[13] On leaving his undercover work, Kennedy applied for a position with intelligence agency Stratfor, in which he highlighted his 'expertise regarding domestic extremism and political activism from across Europe.'[14]

The unit that Kennedy worked for, the NPOIU was merged with others in 2011 to form the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit under the aegis of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command. Following the exposure of Kennedy and other officers it was stripped of its powers to run undercover officers. However, writing in 2014, the Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, Cressida Dick, stated:[15]

... we remain cognisant of the threat from individuals who engage in terrorist activity in the name of Extreme Right or Left wing views or other ideologies. The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU) sets the national strategic direction for understanding extremist threats to the UK. It has a wide range of international partners which it works with, particularly law enforcement and security agencies in Europe. Furthermore it enables us to understand and respond more effectively to the nexus of terrorism and hate crime. For this reason Domestic Extremism policing remains an integral part of CT and wider law enforcement activity.

Other undercovers operating on an international level

Questions by Andrej Hunko and other Green Party members to the German government revealed the existence of cross border police co-operation on transnational 'Euro-anarchism' since 2007. In particular, the German Federal Government has been gathering data on 'traveling violent criminals' associated with left wing demonstrations and exchanged information with France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and the UK.[4][16] How exactly the ECG-UA fits in this co-operation is unclear, but Kennedy was not the only undercover officer operating at an international level:

  • Marco Jacobs (an alias), another UK undercover officer, was present at both Heiligendamm in 2007 and the anti-NATO protests in Strasburg in 2009.[17]
  • Through Hunko's parliamentary questions it is known that the G8 protests Heiligendamm in 2007 had a 'considerable number of foreign police officers and confidential informants present', including a student from Switzerland.[6]
  • Simon Bromma (a.k.a. Simon Brenner), a German police spy, was involved in a No Borders camp in Brussels in September 2010, and on exposure told activists his role was 'information gathering and threat prevention'.[3] Though his infiltration work focused on Heidelberg, he reported every two weeks to the 'Verdeckte Ermittlungen - Staatsschutz' (I540) unit of the Baden-Württemberg police[18] in Stuttgart,[19] (This is the covert policing unit run by Gerhard Spiesberger, who is of the ECG-UA, see below).
  • Christian Høibø, a infiltrator for the Norwegian secret police (PST), then targeting left wing movements, also attended protests during the Gleneagles and Heiligendam anti-G8 protests.[20]
  • Danielle Durand (an alias) was an Austrian undercover police officer who infiltrated animal rights movements for 16 months starting in 2007 and was deployed in the Netherlands and Switzerland.[3][21]

Council of Europe training in undercover activities

In 2008, the ECG-UA was involved in supporting a Council of Europe initiative 'Support to the Anti-Corruption Strategy of Georgia' (GEPAC). The Group was present at a multi-disciplinary training for Georgian prosecutors and law enforcement officers entitled 'Expert Workshop on the use of Special Investigative Means', held at Tbilisi 9-10 December 2008. On the agenda were presentations on the European Working Group on Undercover Activities (i.e. the ECG-UA), European standards on undercover activities, as well as cross-border deployment of undercover agents, and international cooperation in use of SIMs (Special Investigative Means)'. The GEPAC report gives an insight to some of the ECG-UA's work:[22]

The experts described in detail the different phases and steps to undertake in order to establish, select, train, and equip an undercover unit, as well as operative methods, techniques and procedures used by such units.

Specific problems faced by these means of investigation, such as security of undercover agents, provocation to commit a crime, pretend purchases and bribes, or the difficulty to include legislative provisions on special operative-investigative activities, especially since these activities are often on the edge of legality or breaching the law, were addressed.

Following that training, the possibility of organising a study visit for one or two senior police officers or representatives of MoIA (Ministry of Internal Affairs) from specialised units to European counterpart institutions as a possible follow-up to this training was discussed. Preliminary contacts were already made with the German Police.

The cost of the GEPAC programme over all, €700,000, was met by a donation from the Dutch Ministry for Development Cooperation, and the Embassy of the Netherlands helped facilitate the programme in Georgia itself.[23] The training in undercover activities was given by Det. Chief Insp. Gerhard Spiesberger, head of the Undercover Operations Unit, State Bureau of Criminal Investigation of Baden-Württemberg,[24] and Senior Police Inspector Davor Pešić, Head of the Slovenian undercover operation unit. [25][26]

2013 Meetings

The thirteenth session of the ECG-UA took place on 21st - 24th May 2013, at Durres, Albania; organisation of the event was carried out by the Albanian government, though invitations and agenda were prepared by the Austria. Details of the meeting have been discovered by the office of Andrej Hunko.[4]

The list of organisations who sent representatives is (those marked † also sent representatives to the Opatilja meeting later in 2013):

Albania (Organized Crime Directorate) Germany (Customs Investigations Office)† Macedonia (Dimce Mircev) Slovakia (Ministry of Interior)
Austria (Federal Criminal Police, Vienna)† Estonia (Central Criminal Police)† The Netherlands (National Police Agency)† Slovenia (Police/General Police Directorate)†
Belgium (Federal Police)† Finland (National Bureau of Investigation)† Norway (Oslo Police Department)† Switzerland (Federal Criminal Police)†
Bulgaria (General Directorate Counter Organized Crime) France (Central Directorate of Criminal Investigation Department)† Poland (Central Bureau of Investigation) Spain (National Police)†
Croatia (Criminal Police Directorate)† Hungary (National Tax and Customs Administration) Portugal (Policia Judiciara) Spain (National Police)†
Czech Republic (Criminal Police and Investigation Service) Italy (Carabinieri) Romania (General Inspectorate of Romanian Police) UK (Metropolitan Police Service)†
Denmark (Danish National Police)† Latvia (Criminal Police Department)† Russia (Federal Drugs Control Service) UK (Serious and Organized Crime Agency)
Germany (Federal Criminal Police)† Lithuania (Criminal Police Bureau)† Serbia (Criminal Police Directorate)†

The Chair of the ECG-UA at this point is provided by the German Customs Investigations Office (Zollkriminalamt). A focus of the meeting was the challenges posed by the internet for the work of undercover officers. This was followed up by a meeting at Opatilja, Croatia 5th to 8th November 2013 titled "Undercover in Internet", which was organised by Croatia, but prepared by Germany's Customs Investigations Office.

2014 Meetings

Further questioning by the office of Andrej Hunko revealed details of the 2014 meetings of the ECG-UA.[27] The fourteenth session of the ECG-UA took place on 20th - 23rd May 2014, at Bucharest, Roumania. Roumania organised event, while invitations and agenda were prepared by the German Customs Investigations Office, which has continued to chair the Group.

The list of organisations who sent representatives is (those marked † also sent representatives to the Marburg meeting later in 2014):

Albania (Organized Crime Directorate) Germany (Customs Investigations Office)† Macedonia (Dimce Mircev) Slovakia (Ministry of Interior)
Austria (Federal Criminal Police, Vienna)† Estonia (Central Criminal Police) The Netherlands (National Police Agency)† Slovenia (General Police Directorate)†
Belgium (Federal Police)† Finland (National Bureau of Investigation)† Norway (Oslo Police Department)† Switzerland (Federal Criminal Police)†
Bulgaria (General Directorate Counter Organized Crime) France (Central Directorate of Criminal Investigation Department) Poland (Polish National Police) Spain (National Police)
Croatia (Criminal Police Directorate) Hungary (Hungarian National Police† & Hungarian Customs) Portugal (Policia Judiciária) Spain (National Police)
Czech Republic (National Police) Italy (Carabinieri)† Romania (National Police) UK (Metropolitan Police Service)†
Denmark (Danish National Police) Latvia (Criminal Police Department)† Russia (Federal Drugs Control Service) UK (National Crime Agency)†
Germany (Federal Criminal Police)† Lithuania (Criminal Police Bureau)† Turkey (National Police)†

The Third Undercover on the Internet" meeting was held in Marburg, Germany on 6th - 9th October 2014; as before invitations and agenda were prepared by Germany's Customs Investigations Office, though organisation of the event was done by the German Federal Police Office. Also in attendance at the Marburg meeting, besides those marked above, was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Associated police officers

The list below of police officers participating in the ECG-UA gives an indication of the level of police officers involved. In the absence of further documentation, it would appear that participants are drawn from those middle management layers within police forces who would have operational oversight, rather than being of ministerial or senior police level (though some went on to become the latter).

The seven police officers who drafted the ECG-UA Memorandum of Understanding in 2004 were:

  1. Sven Lemmens (Belgium), Chairman at the time of the signing of the Memorandum. In 2007 he was with Belgium's Federal Police and an expert in operations strategies with a knowledge of special investigative methods and of cooperation mechanisms between the Belgium security service and the police; at this point he was accepted for a position within the Belgium state security unit.[28] In 2010 he was with two Europol units: the Analysis and Knowledge Unit (O2) & the Special Tactics Unit (O27).[29]
  2. Jan Sommer (Denmark)
  3. Minna Ketola (Finland): in 2009[30] and 2012[31] she was a senior officer in the Intelligence Division of the Finnish police's Central Bureau of Investigation. with a background in covert infiltration and survillance.[32]
  4. Bernd Rossbach (Germany): was with the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA - Federal Police Office) where his responsibility included serious crime and undercover operations. He rose to the rank of Kriminaldirektor (equivalent to Chief Superintendent), before being appointed as Director of Specialised Crime and Analysis at INTERPOL in 2010[33] where remained until at least Spring 2013 (succeeded by Glyn Lewis in that year). In 2012, as Acting Executive Director of Police Services, his agency was involved in coordinating an international operation against the hactivist group Anonymous, resulting in 25 arrests world-wide.[34]
  5. Crin Cristian Popescu (Romania): has been a civil servant with the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs since 1996, now holding 'special status' rank.[35]
  6. Carol Jenner (UK): by 2008 she was the G2 Head of Covert Operations for the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency; in 2011 she joined the private security firm IntraOrbis as Director of Operations.[36]
  7. Lindsay Kearney (UK), Secretary to the ECG-UA at the time.

Other police officers and officials known to have played active roles in the ECG-UA or represented it publicly include:

  • Gerhard Spiesberger would become the first Kriminalhauptkommissar (Crime Commissioner) for Baden-Württemberg police.[37]
  • Ralf Michelfelder has since become Polizeipräsident ('Police Chief') of the Aalen district within Baden-Württemberg police.[38]
  • Davor Pešić was listed as a consulting expert to a Council of Europe anti-corruption project in 2010.[39]
  • Tihomir Kralji was from 2002-2007 representative of the Criminal Police of the Ministry of the Interior for Croatia on the ECG-UA; currently he is the Deputy Director General of the Republic of Croatia's Customs Directorate; since 1991 he has held managerial positions in the Ministry of Interior rising to high-ranking positions in the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Finance, and had been closely involved in the development of laws relating to policing in Croatia, and representing it on a number of international bodies.[40]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Concerning secretly operating international networks of police forces, German Bundestag, 31 May 2012.
  2. The first meeting took place in Poland (2001), then subsequently in Belgium (2002), Czech Republic (2003), Croatia (2004), Hungary (2005), Germany (2006), Lithuania (2007), Turkey (2008), the Netherlands (2009) and Russian (2010). The thirteenth session of the group meet at Durres, Albania on 21st - 24th May 2013. Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus do not appear to participate.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Matthias Monroy, Using false documents against "Euro-Anarchists": the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations, Statewatch Journal, vol. 21, no. 2, April-June 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Written Reply of the Federal Government on inquiry by MPs Andrej Hunko, Christine Buchholz, Annette Groth, and other Members of the Group of the Left, printed matter 17/1444, Deutscher Bundestag, 1 August 2013, accessed 16 November 2014.
  5. Schweizer Schnüffelstaat mit internationaler Vernetzung Steiger Legal website. Accessed 9 March 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Expose German underhand activities spying!, Office of Andrej Hunko (press release), 2 November 2011, accessed 16 September 2014.
  7. Memorandum of Understanding for use of UC Officers, European Co-operation Group on Undercover Activities], 17 February 2004; published Statewatch 2013.
  8. Secret police networks must be relentlessly exposed, Office of Andrej Hunko (press release), 22 August 2012, accessed 16 September 2014.
  9. Cecilia Malmström, Answer to a written question - European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities and EU secret police networks, European Parliament online, 13 August 2013, accessed 9 March 2014.
    Further analysis of the wider implications of Keith Taylor's questions can be found in a StateWatch article of 20 August 2013 (accessed September 2014): Commission offers little assistance to those seeking answers over police infiltration of protest movements.
  10. Germany sent five undercover police officers to G8 protests, The Guardian, 26 January 2011. Accessed 30 December 2013.
  11. Camille Polloni, Mark Kennedy: A mole in Tarnac, euro-police blog, 17 April 2012; translated by Élodie Chatelais. Accessed 8 March 2014.
  12. A Review of National Police Units which Provide Intelligence on Criminality Associated with Protest, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, 2 February 2012.
  13. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover officer spied on green activists, The Guardian, 9 January 2011, accessed 1 September 2014.
  14. Mark Kennedy, Fwd: (Custom Intelligence Services) Domestic extremism, email to Stratfor, dated 12 December 2011, contained with the Global Intelligence Files, released by Wikileaks on 11 March 2013, accessed September 2014.
  15. Cressida Dick, Written evidence for the inquiry into counter-terrorism, Home Affairs Committee, p. 11, undated, though volume assembled 8 April 2014, accessed 6 January 2015.
  16. Germany, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland also cooperate in a project called "Against Right Wing Extremism", though international cooperation against the right wing is considered to be weak.
  17. Andrej Hunko, Information on sexual relationships by British undercover investigators in Germany / Information for the individuals affected (Written evidence submitted by Andrej Hunko), Home Affairs Select Committee, February 2013, accessed 16 September 2014.
  18. Christopher Titz, Spitzelverdacht an der Uni Heidelberg, Der Spiegel, 21 December 2010, accessed 16 September 2014.
  19. The Case Simon Bromma, Indymedia Linksunten, 14 January 2011, accessed 16 September 2014
  20. Peter Salmon, A Report into the activities of Chrisitan Høibø, Undercover Research Group, forthcoming.
  21. Ermittlungen seit bald vier Jahren, Der Standard, 27 February 2011, accessed 20 December 2014.
  22. 3rd Narrative Progress Report, Support to the Anti-corruption Strategy of Georgia (GEPAC), Council of Europe Project No. 2007/DGI/VC/779. Accessed 9 March 2014.
  23. GEPAC: Support to the Anti-corruption strategy of Georgia, Council of Europe website. Accessed 9 March 2014.
  24. Info sheet Pristina, Council of Europe Office in Pristina, 23 February 2006, accessed 16 September 2014.
  25. Workshop for Law Enforcement Agents on the use of Special Investigative Means, GEPAC / Council of Europe, December 2008. And Agenda for Workshop of 9-10 December 2008, GEPAC / Council of Europe. Accessed 9 March 2014.
  26. Spiesberger and Pesic were also involved in similar training in Tirana, Albania on 22 February 2006, and in Pristina the following day as part of the CARPO project of the Council of Europe. (CARPO Project report - Output 1.3, Council of Europe. Accessed 9 March 2014. Their contact and travel details in relation to the Tirana conference are given here). An earlier document relating to this, the two are mentioned in conjunction with another senior German police officer, Ralf Michelfelder.(Activity Details ID#11793, Joint Programmes - Activities by Country, Council of Europe, 15 July 2005. Accessed 9 March 2014).
  27. Cooperation and projects by European police forces in 2014, Bundestag Printed Paper 18/3619, 2015. See also: Statewatch, New information on undercover policing networks obtained by German parliamentary deputies, 20 February 2015 (accessed 2 March 2015). And
  28. Ministerieel besluit houdende aanwijzing van de leden van de Ondersteuningscel van de Veiligheid van de Staat,, 27 April 2007, accessed 16 September 2014.
  29. Sven Lemmens, Presentation on Europol to the 13th International Forum for Public Prosecutors, Europol, 15 September 2010, accessed 16 September 2010.
  30. Rikosylikomisario (08.09.02),, 20 November 2009, accessed 16 September 2014.
  31. Miksi syyttäjä olisi poliisia pätevämpi?. Helsingin Sanomat, 26 October 2012, accessed 16 September 2014.
  32. Poliisilain muutoksella tehostetaan terrorismin ja järjestäytyneen rikollisuuden torjuntaa, Finland Ministry of the Interior, 14 July 2005, accessed 16 September 2014.
  33. Mr Bernd Rossbach (profile),, accessed 15 September 2014.
  34. Hackers reportedly linked to ‘Anonymous’ group targeted in global operation supported by Interpol, INTERPOL press release, 28 February 2012, accessed 10 October 2014.
  35. Crin Cristian POPESCU profile, (RO), accessed 15 September 2014.
  36. Carol Jenner profile, (UK), accessed 24 January 2014.
  37. Zweite Opfer - und Zeugenschutzkommission Abschlussbericht, undated (probably created in 2013), accessed 16 September 2014.
  38. PM Neue Polizeipräsidenten, Pressemitteilung des Innenministeriums Baden-Württemberg, 8 July 2014, accessed 16 September 2014.
  39. 1 ANNEX 3: LIST OF SHORT-TERM EXPERTS, TACIS Ukraine Action Programme - Support to Good Governance: Project Against Corruption in Ukraine (UPAC) , 1 June 2010, accessed 16 September 2014.
  40. Tihomir Kralj profile,, accessed 1 October 2014.