On 10 February a story appeared in the Sunday Express stating that SIS, Mossad and the CIA had collaborated in an operation to smuggle a nuclear scientist out of Iran and, eventually, into the US. You can read the story here: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1085207/spies-MI6-smuggle-iranian-defector-dinghy-uk-channel The story is strange in that much of it does not make sense: The claim is that the scientist was smuggled across Europe (with an undercover Republican Guard unit in hot pursuit). Eventually, it is claimed, the scientist was smuggled across the English Channel along with other illegal immigrants in a rubber dinghy.
This seems to be crazy. If this had really been an SIS operation then the scientist would have been put on a secret military flight and whisked into Brize Norton before you could say spit. The claim is that this could not be done to avoid undermining the UK/Iranian nuclear agreement – but that is precisely why any nation has a secret intelligence service: to carry out operations that cannot be avowed.
The story was broken by Express Diplomatic editor Marco Giannangeli. He previously came to attention in September 2018 with another astonishing claim: He wrote in the Express that the Russian military agents who had attempted to assassinate Sergei Skripal had been identified by a GRU officer, codenamed APOLLO, who had defected to MI6 in Rome just weeks later. He claimed that his source was “a recently retired MI6 officer.”
The interesting fact is that none of the broadsheets that one would normally expect to lead on such a story have repeated these claims. Even in the case of the Iranian operation, only pro-Israeli websites appear to have run the story. If UK intelligence services had wanted to break such an important story they would normally have gone to their usual outlets such as The Times or The Telegraph. If the second source really was a recently retired officer acting without clearance then SIS would have had his or her proverbial guts for garters. So what is the truth? Does the Express have better access to intelligence news than any other news outlet? Or is there something else going on?