Private Spooks Court Journalists

Melissa Sweet, a freelance Australian health journalist, reports that she recently received an email from a staffer with the private intelligence company Hakluyt. In it, she was asked if she would like to become part of a "network of well-placed individuals around the world who are able to provide us, very discreetly, with intelligence on specific commercial or political issues that may arise." In particular, they were seeking her assistance for an anonymous "financial institution" client, on "a new project on the new Australian government's healthcare policy -- how realistic their reform ambitions really are," "the role of the private sector" and other matters. Sweet responded by pointing out that she was a journalist, not a consultant. Undeterred, the Hakluyt staffer responded that as a journalist, she was likely to have "dozens of well-placed sources in the field" and that the company already works with "a number of quality, usually specialist journalists." In 2001 Hakluyt was outed for infiltrating Greenpeace in Europe.