Monday, 22 May 2017

Officials: Zeman's words harm secret services' cooperation

ČTK |
12 January 2017

Prague, Jan 11 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman has discredited the Czech Republic in foreign intelligence's eyes, and his failure to keep information on a dangerous person's stay in the country secret makes him incompetent as president, Ivan Gabal, deputy head of the lower house's security committee, said on Wednesday.

Gabal (government Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) reacted to Zeman's statement on Czech Radio (CRo) that a person who comes from north Africa's Maghreb region and is suspected of cooperation with terrorist Islam organisations is staying in the Czech Republic.

Gabal said he cannot but suppose that Zeman's statements are true,

"If it is true, his statement means a huge discrediting in the eyes of our Western partners and intelligence services," Gabal told CTK, adding that the Czech Republic depends on cooperation with foreign intelligence.

"If Milos Zeman is unable to keep such information secret, if he really received it, I think he his incapable of performing in the [presidential] post," Gabal said.

He said the information should have remained secret.

"If foreign intelligence services arrive at the conclusion that such information can be leaked in our country, they simply cannot convey such information to us," Gabal added.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) tweeted that he would like to calm down the public in connection with Zeman's words and assure people that security forces duly operate and do everything to ensure maximal possible security of the Czech Republic.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) told journalists he would neither confirm nor refute Zeman's information.

Daniel Korte (TOP 09), a member of the Chamber of Deputies security committee, said he was afraid Zeman was unable to think of the impact of his words.

"It may be fine that he gave no name or nationality, but even the fact that a search is being conducted for the person is logically also a classified fact. In doing so, he has basically warned the person," Korte said.

A member of the Chamber of Deputies defence committee, Jana Cernochova (Civic Democratic Party, ODS), said the publication of such information from a senior elected official was extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

Cernochova said this could frustrate the work of intelligence and defence services.

"This can make people even more nervous. The feeling that the danger is behind the door. I do not think that this will contribute to calm," the deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies defence committee, Bohuslav Chalupa (ANO), said.

"Zeman is able to say anything. This is no surprise to me," Jiri Ruzek, former head of the BIS counter-intelligence, said.

The former director of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information, Karel Randak, condemned the statement as scare-mongering.

"This is unprecedented, outright stupidity," Randak said.

Former interior minister Frantisek Bublan (CSSD) said the president did not have the right to disclose such information.

Zeman has harmed the work of the intelligence, he added.

"This is a blunder," Bublan said.

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