214626 6/30/2009 15:35 09THESSALONIKI30 Consulate Thessaloniki UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 09THESSALONIKI12 VZCZCXRO3337 RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD DE RUEHIK #0030/01 1811535 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 301535Z JUN 09 FM AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0455 INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0033 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0016 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 0025 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA 0024 RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA 0005 RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0015 RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 0031 RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 0334 RUEHIK/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI 0498 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 THESSALONIKI 000030
DEPT. FOR EUR/SE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PREL, ECON, ECPS, SMIG, SNAR, SOCI, GR, TU, RO, AL, MK, BU, YI, MW SUBJECT: THESSALONIKI: STRENGTHENING BALKAN COOPERATION ON CYBER-CRIME, OTHER TRANSNATIONAL THREATS
REF: THESSALONIKI 012
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Post's fourth annual regional seminar on Trans-border Law Enforcement Cooperation, which focused this year on Cyber crime, confirmed strong regional interest in tackling Balkan transnational crime. Police and prosecutors from Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey received training in cyber-forensics from U.S.-based experts working for the Department of Commerce and Department of Justice. Coinciding with the announcement of President Obama's cyber-security initiative, the seminar underscored the importance the USG attaches to the topic and our commitment to confronting it through international cooperation. Such seminars encourage a collective approach to fighting transnational crime and contribute to regional cooperation and stability. The seminar also highlighted Greece's potential to play a leadership role in fighting Balkan transnational crime, with support from the USG. END SUMMARY EIGHT BALKAN COUNTRIES AND U.S. COOPERATE ON CYBER-CRIME
2. (U) Police and prosecutors from Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey participated in ConGen Thessaloniki's fourth annual training seminar on trans-border cooperation in the northern Greek border town of Drama June 1-4, 2009, with a special focus on cyber-crime. The primary aims of the seminar were 1. to build capacity of participants to investigate and prosecute crime through the use of cyber forensics and 2. to promote practical cooperation among police and prosecutors from neighboring southeast European countries.
3. (U) Experts from the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Commerce provided instruction in cyber forensic investigative skills. This included the use of computers and information technology to investigate a wide variety of crimes that at some point in their planning or execution involved the use of computers or related devices such as smart phones. (e.g. credit card fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, robbery, child pornography, rape, kidnapping, murder and terrorism). The seminar focused on hands-on training on techniques, review of recent success stories and how cross-border cooperation contributed to success, best practices in investigation and prevention. The seminar took place in a classroom-type setting with audiovisual equipment and a laptop for each participant. This was the fourth consecutive year Post has organized a regional seminar on trans-border cooperation, with previous topics including trafficking in persons, narcotics trafficking, illegal immigration and weapons smuggling. As in previous years, the Department of Justice provided funding to cover the cost of participants' transportation, lodging and per diem during the seminar.
4. (SBU) The quality and engagement of participants indicated a high level of concern about cyber-crime and an interest in working regionally to address it. The USG's credibility, resources and organizational capacity were critical factors in bringing together police and prosecutors from eight southeast European countries for joint training. Such regional seminars encourage a collective approach to fighting transnational crime and contribute to regional cooperation and stability. Other Post conclusions from the seminar follow:
-- Fighting cyber-crime is a high priority for SEE countries and a topic on which the USG can strengthen bilateral relations and regional cooperation. Participating countries sent experienced police officials and prosecutors who remained engaged throughout the seminar and afterwards requested additional USG training on cyber-crime and cyber-forensics. There appear to be some differences in the level of cyber-forensics capability between participating countries, though most have established special cyber-crime police units and all seem to appreciate the need for a coordinated law enforcement response to cyber-crime.
-- Training police and prosecutors together in the same seminar
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was productive, but judges also need training. Participating police and prosecutors readily admitted they need more training and that they need to work more closely together (domestically and internationally), but insisted that successful prosecution of cyber-crime depended on training judges too. Participants said judges need separate, basic training (tailored to judges) in cyber-crime and cyber-forensics to help them get up to speed.
-- The seminar helped foster regional cooperation at the operational level. During parts of the seminar that emphasized cross-border dialogue and cooperation, participants exchanged information freely and refrained from the political posturing and bickering (e.g. between Macedonian and Greek officials) that has flared up occasionally at previous seminars.
-- USG-provided training in trans-border cooperation and cyber-crime has promoted goodwill towards the USG. National and local media provided comprehensive and positive coverage of the opening reception as well as closing press conference. The seminar generated good public relations for the USG, since most Greeks recognize cyber-crime as a potential threat to them and accept the training as "win-win".
-- Greece should be encouraged to play a leadership role in strengthening regional law enforcement cooperation, including on cyber-crime. Greece has technical capabilities and experience to organize future training seminars with U.S. support as needed. In the past few weeks, the Greek police electronic crime squad has helped dismantle a Greek-Macedonian-Bulgarian credit card fraud ring, a Bulgarian-Greek ATM/credit card fraud ring and an internet child porn ring based in Greece.
SUGGESTED NEXT STEPS
5. (SBU) Post recommends (if funds are available) co-organizing a follow-up regional seminar in 2010 on cyber-forensics and cyber crime (or illegal immigration or another transnational threat of mutual interest) with the Greek Police at its new Police Training Academy in the northern Greece border town of Verria. Athens Legatt, DHS/ICE rep, and CG Thessaloniki visited the newly completed training facility in February, during which the chief of northern Greece police, General Bamiatsis, expressed a strong interest in hosting regional seminars that would include U.S. instructors. Bamiatsis's successor, General Apostolides, reiterated the offer to Post on June 16. Apostolides added that the academy hosted its first regional training seminar (on the handling of hostage situations), with the participation of police from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. (Note: A U.S. co-organizing role in future seminars might help secure participation of Macedonia and other Balkan countries. End note)
6. (U) Post would like to thank Embassy Athens Office of the Legal Attache, SECI, the Department of Justice and Department of Commerece for invaluable support in the organization of the seminar. Post also thanks Embassies Tirana, Sofia, Ankara, Podgorica, Belgrade, Skopje and Bucharest for their assistance in identifying and vetting excellent participants for the seminar. YEE