Thursday, October 29, 2015

MI5 surveillance 'most sophisticated ever seen'

The MI5-led operation, which lasted almost three years, involved the use of audio surveillance and tracking devices fitted to several vehicles.

It is believed a helicopter was also used to monitor the men.

Exhibits presented to defence solicitors included detailed maps and graphics highlighting the movement of cars containing the men.

Information from bugs planted in the cars was ‘overlaid’ with GPS co-ordinates from trackers, meaning surveillance teams could identify the exact time and location comments were made.

Video footage, at times reconstructed by the PSNI, was also added to the computerised exhibits to recreate what could be seen from the vehicles at the location and times conversations were held.

The extraordinary operation was supplemented by ‘aerial platform footage”, which may have involved the use of drones, or ‘heletele’ footage filmed from a PSNI chopper.

At times this aerial footage was also inlaid on the exhibit to show where the car was in real time.

The Irish News revealed yesterday that the huge surveillance operation, which cost millions of pounds, involved 44 MI5 officers, who are known as ‘Pins’.

In addition 35 PSNI officers, known as ‘Oscars’, were involved.

Mr Murphy said “an exhibit of this nature has never been seen before in our courts”.

“The three accused were subject to the most sophisticated and intensive methods of surveillance ever seen in this jurisdiction, involving vehicle tracker devices planted in several cars, helicopter surveillance on many dates, complemented by on the ground covert undercover PSNI and Security Service operatives.”

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