S E C R E T LISBON 001874
FOR STATE ISN/CTR, PM/ISO/PMAT (24/7), DS/IP/EUR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2018
TAGS: ASEC KCRM KNNP MNUC PARM PO PREL PTER
SUBJECT: FOLLOW-UP REPORTING REGARDING ALLEGATION OF
NUCLEAR MATERIAL SMUGGLING - PORTUGAL
REF: A. 07 STATE 162091
Â¶B. HAYCRAFT/PMAT E-MAIL DATED 7/24/08
Â¶C. LISBON 001808
Â¶D. NAP ASSESSMENT DATED 7/25/08
Classified By: Ambassador Thomas Stephenson, Reason 1.4 (c)(d)(f)
Â¶1. (S/NF) Synopsis: On July 24, a walk-in approached
Embassy Lisbon and reported that he knew of 5 to 6 plates of
Uranium that are for sale in Portugal. The plates are
allegedly in the possession of an ex-Russian General living
in Portugal who was using a Portuguese Judge to broker sales.
Allegedly, the plates were stolen from Chernobyl. A color
photocopy of a photo of the plate was provided. Referenced
NAP assessment cast doubt on the provenance of the alleged
Uranium and conjectured the Uranium brick was similar to
African Uranium scams first noted in the 1980s. The walk-in
was interviewed again on July 30 by GRPO chief and RSO.
Additionally, following lead provided in the interview, the
RSO learned through police sources associated with a
counterfeit case in Coimbra, that the walk-in is well known
and is nicknamed the "Giraffe" and is involved in many scams.
Â¶2. (S) Based on the analysis and other guidance, the
walk-in referenced in ref c returned to the Embassy on July
30, at 1040 hours. The purpose of the interview was to
elicit additional information regarding "Orlando", the Judge,
the ex-Russian General, the location of the alleged plates,
and get a copy of the promised "analysis" of the plates.
Â¶3. (S) The walk-in arrived on foot at approximately 1040
hours. In his possession were keys to an Audi, Portuguese
identity card, photocopy of "analysis" of the Uranium, and
ten cents. He had no wallet, cell phone, or miscellaneous
papers in his pockets.
Â¶4. (S) The walk-in stated he is unable to provide
additional information regarding the Judge or the ex-Russian
General. However, he described Orlando as married, with
children, who works as a truck driver for a company named
Largo. He promised to provide the full name of Orlando later
today (On July 28, the walk-in provided Orlando's cell phone
number 916521158. A Vodafone reverse directory listed the
number as being registered to Orlando Jose Fernandes).
Regarding the location of the plates, the walk-in claimed
that one of the Uranium plates is located in the Judge's
house and that the remaining plates are located in northern
Portugal just south of the Spanish border. He did not
provide more specific information.
Â¶5. (S) Of note, the walk-in claimed that Orlando advised
him not to approach the American or Israeli embassies, but
suggested that the Iranian or Libyan embassies would be
better options. He further attested that he has not
approached anyone or any other government or entity with
information regarding the plates. The walk-in stated he did
not want to sell the plates to bad guys because they are
dangerous -- he would rather make less money than sell the
plates to the bad guys. Regarding the analysis, the walk-in
stated that the analysis was done at Orlando's residence in
Peniche. He claimed no knowledge of what the analysis meant.
The "analysis" appears to be a "spectral analysis" of the
plate compared with a known sample of some material (unknown
word). Magically they match. The next step was subtracting
various figures and densities and eventually arriving at 5.84
kg of Uranium (The reporting officer says he received a D
minus in college Chemistry, but nevertheless recognized the
dubious quality of the "analysis"). A scanned copy of the
analysis will be forwarded to appropriate offices.
Â¶6. (S) Overall, the interview, which lasted well over an
hour, focused on the alleged sale of Uranium plates, but also
covered a wide array of illicit money-making opportunities
that the walk-in has been involved in within the past two
years -- alcohol sales, counterfeiting, small-time deals.
The walk-in, in a self-analysis, described himself as a
perpetual failure and poor decision maker, in search of "El
Dorado". For instance, he claimed to have provided
information in a US dollar counterfeit case within the past
two years. The walk-in claimed over 10 million counterfeit US
dollars were seized and that the USG was involved in the
case. It should be noted, that there was a large counterfeit
case in northern Portugal within the past year and a half.
The amount seized was approximately the amount mentioned by
the walk-in. The USSS did participate in the case and
follow-up cases. This counterfeit case was broadly
publicized in the Portuguese press, however, the involvement
of the USSS was not well publicized. This claim sparked the
RSO's interest since RSO was involved in coordinating the
case with the USSS. A subsequent phone call to a Judicial
Police (PJ) source in Coimbra determined that the walk-in is
well known to them and is nicknamed the "brother-in-law" and
the "Giraffe." Additionally, the walk-in is currently a
person of interest ("arguido" in Portuguese) in the
aforementioned counterfeit case and is a suspect in another
case, according to the PJ source. The walk-in may also be
involved in selling stolen cars.
Â¶7. (S) Assessment: The walk-in is a small-time hustler and
criminal. Furthermore, the new information provided by the
PJ places in question his bona fides. At the least, RSO
believes the walk-in is a witting participant in this uranium
scheme. The old Judge and ex-Russian General more than
likely do not exist and were created in order to embellish
the scam and add sex appeal. Whether Orlando is a
co-conspirator, unwitting pawn, or also an invented
personality remains unknown.
Â¶8. (S/NF) Next Steps: Pending the final analysis by
Washington, RSO and GRPO will present this case to the
Judicial Police (PJ) and request that they investigate and
determine whether these plates in fact exist, and if so, to
seize them. At this point there seems to be no nexus to
terrorism or other nuclear material smuggling in Portugal.
Â¶9. (S/NF) GRPO is sending in via their channels a report
regarding yesterday's development.