Nato nation Albania popular about sensitive intelligence data online

Albania, a Nato country, is posting sensitive information about its most senior intelligence operations on the internet, making details about their identities, vehicles, operational roles, and how it potentially appears to be dangerous that could have international consequences.

Salary and expense data posted on the website of Albania's Ministry of Finance show a wealth of details about the State Intelligence Service, including the locations of field offices, cash withdrawals, and minutiae searches as the plumbers, technicians and mechanics they use.

The records show the names and numbers of agents in the service, known locally and in the intelligence community as SHISH, operating inside Albania and abroad, including two with sensitive posts at Nato headquarters in Brussels. The spreadsheets Albanian operatives – some working under diplomatic cover – in Belgium, Greece, Kosovo, Italy, Macedonia and Serbia.

The Independent who may or may not be associated with the agency's operations. Tirana compound, SHISH officials acknowledged the sensitive nature of the information.

Headquarters of Albania's State Intelligence Service, known by its acronym SHISH (SHISH)

"The principle is that everything our agency does should be hidden, but we should follow these rules and regulations," said one SHISH official. "The rules and regulations do not allow us to spend the money without reporting it."

Intelligence and security professionals have been told by the Revelations, which could leave agents in sensitive locations vulnerable to surveillance or blackmail by hostile intelligence organizations or criminals seeking to infiltrate the Western alliance.

"By getting into Albania's system they can get into NATO's system," said Xhemal Gjunkshi, an opposition member of the Albanian parliament who serves on the National Security Commission.

"You start pulling a string and you end up in Brussels or London or the office of a supreme allied commander in the US."

Helidon Bendo, director of Albania's State Intelligence Service, or SHISH (SHISH)

A former CIA field operating familiar with SHISH described it as the type of bureaucratic catastrophe that could put lives at risk.

"You can not screw up if you're paying attention," he told The Independent on condition of anonymity because he continues to work on sensitive security matters.

"You can put the budget online. But to put the names and the other details of agents – that's insanity. "

A Brussels-based spokesperson for NATO said in an email that it does not comment on intelligence matters.

An installation shows torture positions used by the Sigurimi, Albania's Communist-era domestic spy service, at The House of Lives, a former intelligence headquarters now in Tirana (Borzou Daragahi)

Sigurimi, the notorious communist-era domestic spy service that infiltrated every aspect of Albanians' personal lives during the country's four-and-a-half decade Stalinist dictatorship.

A 2007 US State Department cable published by WikiLeaks SHISH as "a professional, largely apolitical intelligence service" that is "excellent partners" with the US government and cited "close cooperation on all intelligence activities".

The director of the organization, currently Helidon Bendo, is appointed by the prime minister of the country and operates as an autonomous unit outside the Albanian cabinet. According to the finance ministry documents, it employs 913 people. One foreign diplomat complained that SHISH operates with little accountability or oversight.

The documents revealed tantalizing clues about the operations of the clandestine agency. The Independent could not confirm the names of the operations inside Albania were handles or birth names. But the names of the international operations listed the identities of Albanian diplomatic staff posted at embassies across Europe.

One female regional in the main port city of Durrës, whose name and ID card number are visible in the records, is listed as the Albanian currency equivalent of £ 18,000, at least 10 transactions this year for "special payments", a possible reference to networks of informants.

The insignia of Albania's State Intelligence Service, or SHISH (SHISH)

Another agent in Gjirokastër, in Albania's south, is recorded withdrawing a check for about £ 1,500 in November for what it describes on the Albanian Ministry of Finance's public website as a "secret fund".

Tumba, which might refer to several mountain peaks in the Balkans.

At one point, water bills in Albania's Himara district, where many members of the country's Greek minority reside, suddenly drop 95 cent, suggesting shifting surveillance priorities.

The information appeared to be updated daily. A withdrawal of about £ 21,000 from Credins Bank in Tirana on 3 December was posted online by day's end.

Details include the license plate numbers and sometimes make and model details of vehicles used by the spies, and even where the cars are taken for repairs, as well as records of pricey hotel stays and restaurant bills.

In an effort to be transparent, Albania posts daily financial transactions by the government on its website (Albania Ministry of Finance)

The documents also reveal potentially uncomfortable details about the domestic spying activities of SHISH, including rental payments for offices at Tirana International Airport and TVSH, the state-owned broadcaster. Some of the devices described there are "installing technical devices" and "devices inside the state television [offices]".

Officials vowed to remove the data after The Independent informed the country's prime ministry, intelligence services, foreign ministry, interior ministry, defense ministry and finance ministry publication of this article was pending. During the month the information has become available.

Data collected by the Albanian Ministry of Finance website posted for the country's spy service, SHISH (Albania Ministry of Finance)

The country has become a pro-Western political leader in the field of weakening its NATO and EU ties.

In March, Albania expelled two Russian diplomats, accusing them of unauthorized intelligence operations. "Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said at the time.

Albania appears to have a leak of information security when it comes to its intelligence services. SHISH director Mr Bendo's national identification card, which includes his home address and ID number, as part of a transparency initiative.

Earlier this year, a state agency reportedly received a list of 250 or so names of operational serving in the country's Military Intelligence unit.

The SHISH documents posted online back to 2014, as Albania struggled to show the EU that it has shaken off its history of public corruption and seeking to make it transparent and accountable as a step towards membership in the trading and currency bloc.

Albanian laws forbids the leaking of secret state information;

Told of the leaks, officials of the prime ministers' office, finance ministry, interior ministry, and foreign ministry scrambled behind the scenes to remove the data, but also assign blame for the mishap.

Each of the bills and orders of that are executed each day, "one official said on condition of anonymity.

"All the details that are given there are because they were written in the order of payment by the institution itself. They should not detail the bills with such sensitive information. "

One longtime former officer of the Albanian intelligence service told The Independent who the culpability lay with SHISH itself, for sensitive information to finance minerals who paint security clearances.

"It's incompetence of the leadership," said the previous official, who spoke on the issue.

"Sometimes people are not because of good performance or qualifications, but because of the influence of the politicians. Sometimes people coming into the security institutions are not well-off. The problem starts at the top. "