A major scandal has come to light showing that a special unit under the Ministry of Defence has been tapping the communication of journalists from leading newspapers and the TV news channel TA3, among others.
The daily Novy Cas has managed to get hold of documents that show how for months journalists in Slovakia have had their privacy violated, as the military secret service agency VOS has been monitoring their phone calls etc., without authorisation from a court or for any specific reason.
The transcriptions of phone calls left nothing sacred, with TA3 news channel claiming that even the bank pin code and other confidential information of its head Michal Guci were recorded.
Other known targets include journalists from daily Pravda, while the gathered information concerns also health and intimate personal issues. Authorisation to tap into peoples lives in this way must come from a respective judge, and even then only for good reason.
Daily Pravda responded to the violated rights of its journalists by saying it was “a shocking abuse of power in legal, professional and human terms, and an attempt to scaremonger”. The daily will be taking legal steps to protect its journalists and the publisher, probably by filing a criminal complaint over suspicion of laws being violated and crimes being committed.
The activities of VOS come directly under the defence minister, meaning Lubomir Galko from the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party. Galko has so far not responded to the query of Novy Cas as to why they were tapping into the communication of journalists.
Galko did comment on his Facebook wall, though, saying “Great. I expected just about anything, but this? A real dirty game. I really must be on someone’s heels or making them sick. If they think that they can break me with such a smear campaign, they are gravely mistaken. Neither VOS nor VSS have their own tapping equipment, all tapping is done solely in line with the law, after the consent of a judge and via the police force”.
VOS is basically the counterespionage agency of the military, which gathers, concentrates and evaluates information affecting the security and defence of the country, so no real need to target journalists for that.
Whether the claims are true or not, we can be certain that the whole issue will explode in minister Galko’s face, as the opposition, and also the former coalition partners of the SaS, will likely bend it to their advantage to discredit Galko and the SaS party as the early elections approach. A special parliamentary committee governing the affairs of VOS is also set to initiate an investigation into its activities.