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Chamber committee backs Koudelka as counter-intelligence chief

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Prague, July 14 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka proposed Michal Koudelka, 51, for a new chief of the BIS civilian counter-intelligence service at a meeting of the lower house security committee that recommended him unanimously on Thursday.

Koudelka, a long-time BIS officer, will replace Jiri Lang, 58, who asked for dismissal himself in early June.

The government will debate the proposal for Koudelka’s appointment at a meeting on July 27. He could assume the post in mid-August, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

Lang as well as the security committee members supported Koudelka’s nomination at the meeting on Thursday.

Lang has headed the BIS since 2003. His departure from its helm was discussed last autumn. He asked Sobotka for dismissal on June 6, Sobotka said.

Lang did not elaborate about the reasons for his request.

Sobotka praised the committee’s unanimous decision across the political spectrum.

He told reporters that in the security situation that was much worse than years ago, the committee preferred continuity and guarantee of a professional and really unbiased management of the BIS.

“I consider it important that the BIS remain a professional body that is completely impartial and is no part of political fights,” Sobotka said.

He said he had proposed the nomination of Koudelka after a thorough consideration. Koudelka has sufficient professional and human experience for occupying the post of the BIS head, Sobotka added.

Lang called Koudelka a successful manager who had achieved excellent results as a section head of which the public should not learn, however. He vouched for Koudelka.

Koudelka, born in 1965, graduated from the Czech Technical University (CVUT) in Prague. He started working in the BIS in 1994. He has headed its BIS counter-espionage section for ten years.

Koudelka told the lower house committee that he would like the BIS under his management to be apolitical and professional, act strictly in compliance with law and be able to promptly react to possible threats to the Czech Republic.

“I hope that the BIS under my lead will be at least as successful as under its director Lang,” Koudelka said.

Koudelka also told the committee that he had not been a member of the pre-1989 Communist Party (KSC).

He welcomed the planned two-level controlling of secret services and he said he considered the recruitment of new BIS staff crucial.

Koudelka did not want to talk to journalists after the committee meeting on Thursday.

“I appreciate the unanimous approval of the proposal very much,” he told CTK, declining further comments.

MP Bohuslav Chalupa (ANO) said the government movement did not have enough time to react to the proposal, but that the choice of Koudelka seemed good.

He dismissed the media information about ANO considering nominating former police organised crime unit (UOOZ) head Robert Slachta, who left the police because he disagreed with a prepared reform.

The BIS director is appointed by the government after a debate in the lower house security committee. He is also accountable to the government that can dismiss him.

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