Prague, Feb 29 (CTK) – A special “super-committee” at the Government Office is to coordinate a better interconnection of Czech intelligence officers, according to a proposal worked out by MP Bohuslav Chalupa (ANO) in reaction to recent intelligence lapses, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Monday.
The kidnapping of five Czechs, including military intelligence (VZ) officer Martin Psik, in Lebanon, the hacking of PM Bohuslav Sobotka’s e-mail account and the leaks of classified intelligence information to the media show that the cooperation of the three secret services in the Czech Republic is stagnating, LN adds.
Chalupa would therefore like to form a two- or three-member team within the Government Office to coordinate the work of the intelligence services: the VZ, the civilian intelligence (UZSI) and the civilian counter-intelligence (BIS) services.
The new team would work as a certain link between the PM and the secret services. Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and the National Security Council (BRS) should deal with this organisational matter, Chalupa said without elaborating.
He only added that he would like to present his proposal to the Chamber of Deputies this week.
An extraordinary lower house session behind closed doors is scheduled for Thursday to debate the “Lebanese case,” with Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) and VZ chief Jan Beroun attending, LN writes.
The recent case of Lebanese Ali Fayad, an alleged collaborator of the Lebanese secret services, has harmed the relations with the Czech Republic’s key ally, the United States, that demanded his extradition on suspicion of terrorism. However, he was swapped for the five kidnapped Czechs, which Stropnicky confirmed to the media.
LN writes that some government MPs have also supported a better coordination of the secret services and Chalupa’s proposal in this respect.
At present, classified data are mainly debated at meetings of the National Security Council, comprised of the PM and selected ministers. The committee for intelligence activities to coordinate them is subordinated to it. It again includes the PM, the interior, defence and foreign ministers as well as the BIS, UZSI and VZ chiefs, LN says.
Chalupa in his draft amendment also proposes that a permanent commission controlling the UZSI be set up, comprising former judges and other respected personalities who would get access to the intelligence files that are in process and into which MPs cannot look, LN writes.
It points out that under the previous governments of Vaclav Klaus (1993-97) and of Milos Zeman (1998-2002), ministers without portfolio were assigned to coordinate the secret services’ work.
However, the renewal of the post of a special “intelligence” minister is not planned, Sobotka told LN.
Jaroslav Basta, former CSSD minister without portfolio in Zeman’s government, has criticised mainly the fact that the Czech civilian intelligence still operates under the Interior Ministry and is not closely linked to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which is usual in the world, LN writes.