The UK's secret intelligence service MI6 was last night thrown into panic last night when a former spy published the names of more than 100 colleagues on the Internet.
Government lawyers were frantically trying to close down the site in a bid to limit the damage already done by former MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson. The free webhosting service GeoCities was forced to shut down the former British spy's site.
Tomlinson was ousted from MI6 in 1995. He was then imprisoned in 1997 for violating a British official secrets act. After his release, he moved to Switzerland, where he started a website claiming global illegal acts by British intelligence.
The site was taken down at the end of April; Swiss authorities say Tomlinson had threatened to publish British secrets online, and they had to shut him down to prevent that.
Last week, Tomlinson put up a new site through the free Web-hosting service GeoCities. This time, he allegedly said hewas going to release sensitive details about where British intelligence offices are located. That new site has now been suspended.
Bruce Zanca, the vice president of communications at GeoCities, says that it was simply a matter of policy. "People [complete] a questionnaire and agree to no illegal activities and no hate speech. It was brought to our attention that therewere content violations; we put the site under suspension."
He added, "We're careful in protecting privacy for our users, so I can't get into details, but it fell under the general content restrictions."
Next steps? "[Tomlinson] is free to [dispute the shut down] and if so, we'll start a dialogue with him. If the site is brought into compliance, we'll put the website back up."