The case involving the monitoring of journalists by military intelligence unit VOS under the Ministry of Defence is starting to unfold into a worrying scenario that shows how easy it is for the authorities to listen in on anyone they wish, even without due reason.
The latest revelations from a document exposed by Novy Cas point to how Prime Minister Iveta Radicova was also monitored by VOS in operation Dama in order to find out her position on certain issues, including concerning the so-called Hayek affair.
The people at the military intelligence unit VOS have also been recording people at the Ministry of Defence itself, with references, often derogatory, to defence minister Lubomir Galko, who was removed from his post today. In the transcripts acquired by Novy Cas, Galko is referred to as Mio.
Earlier in the week, head of nationalist party SNS, Jan Slota, was the one person to say openly how wiretapping has always been carried out and always will be. Another fact is that most applications by Slovak authorities to get a judge’s approval to wiretap someone are approved without question.
One of the journalists who was subjected to the phone tapping by VOS was also supposedly monitored under the previous government of Robert Fico. According to a document obtained by daily Hospodarske Noviny, Patricia Poprocka, in 2007 the secret service were tapping her calls and surveilling her movements. In both incidents, the journalist was allegedly being investigated for possible leaks of confidential information.
At that time the Ministry of Defence was run by Frantisek Kasicky from Fico’s Smer-Sd party, who was later dismissed over dodgy tenders.
As the affair expands, more and more revelations can be expected in the coming days, but now the case has been handed to the Attorney General’s office, where former attorney general Dobroslav Trnka will head a team to deal with the case.
Sadly the website is well behind the news …
According to a report in the Sme daily on November 24, former defence minister Jaroslav Baška admitted on Wednesday, November 23, that the previous government, led by his own Smer party, also monitored journalist Patrícia Poprocká (nee Ďurišková). Poprocká recently led the domestic news desk of the Pravda daily and was one three journalists who were revealed this week to have been bugged this year by the Military Defence Intelligence (i.e. military counterintelligence service), or VOS.
Poprocká’s phone was wiretapped in 2007 for the same reason given for her more recent monitoring: the VOS wanted to find who had leaked sensitive information. Poprocká, who was an editor of the Žurnál weekly at that time, wrote a story about how classified documents were being leaked from the VOS. Earlier this week, Baška said that a document released which purported to be a request made to a court to allow five VOS wiretaps was nonsense. However, on Wednesday he issued another statement confirming that the bugging had in fact taken place. Baška did not say why he had changed his mind.
Poprocká was wiretapped when František Kašický (also a Smer nominee) was the Defence Minister and Baška was his deputy, the Hospodárske Noviny daily wrote. In his written statement Baška denied any parallels with the bugging initiated by Ľubomír Galko (Freedom and Solidarity (SaS)), who was fired this week as defence minister. They allegedly deployed agents to monitor Poprocká because the security of the state was endangered, Baška argued.
After the recent scandal came to light, Smer leader Robert Fico criticised Galko for having eavesdropped on journalists. “It is an attack against fundaments of the state, against democracy,” he stated on Monday.
Government Office inspectors have revealed that the administration of the State Material Reserves led by Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) nominee Eva Hrinková repeatedly broke the law when selling platinum mesh to a company belonging to Michal Hudoba, an SDKÚ candidate in the 2010 elections. The inspection found that the administration breached the law when it invited possible bidders to take part in the sale via the web. Moreover, it acted illegally when selecting an expert to assess the value of the platinum being sold, the Sme daily wrote on Thursday, November 24. The daily reported that the platinum mesh is probably already abroad and the administration has lost the only existing sample.
Moreover, the material reserve case seems to be growing. In September 2011 it sold over 32 tonnes of TNT explosive for the extremely low price of 21 cents per kilogram, the Hospodárske Noviny daily wrote on Thursday, November 24. Experts say that the administration’s price was two thirds lower than the current market price. The firm Corvus Slovakia bought the explosive after being the only bidder in an e-auction. Neither the State Reserves Administration, nor Corvus Slovakia offered an explanation. It seems that the state lost at least €13,000 in the sale, the daily wrote.
Honesty is not a Slovak virtue it would appear ?