Friday, February 08, 2008

Last Polish Gov´t Accused of Security Breaches

Poland's last government was accused on Thursday of widespread illegal wire tapping, and of endangering NATO security by mishandling secret intelligence.

Janusz Ziemke, head of parliament's special services committee, told media that an internal audit by the National Security Agency showed that it had carried out at least 94 illegal wire taps during Jaroslaw Kaczynski's tenure as prime minister.

"Just one incident of illegal wire tapping in a democratic country should sound a warning bell," Parliamentary Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski said in a radio interview.

"If even one of these is proven, that people were listened to illegally, it would underline the belief that that government cared little about democratic mechanisms and the rule of law."

Allegations of abuse of state power are sensitive in Poland, which was run as a police state for five decades by communists.

Since losing power in October, officials in the Kaczynski government have faced numerous allegations that have supported the view that they sacrificed civil liberties in their zeal to stamp out graft and unmask communist-era agents.

Kaczynski and his former ministers have rejected the accusations, accusing the centre-right government of Donald Tusk of trying to derail the anti-corruption campaign they began.

The Gazeta Wyborcza daily reported on Thursday that Polish military intelligence was investigating whether three former officials illegally copied and walked out with secret documents that contained operational details and names of agents.

The newspaper said Poland, the biggest former communist member of NATO, might need to inform the military alliance that security had been were compromised.

"The situation in military counter-intelligence is very serious," said Ziemke. "Control was lost over several very important documents."

Antoni Macierewicz, the far-right former head of military counter-intelligence under whose watch the alleged breach took place, disputed the allegations.

"During the time I was in charge there were no illegal actions related to the documents," he said.

Former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro also faces allegations that he mishandled secret investigation documents by transferring them to his unsecured laptop.

Ziobro has since admitted to having damaged the laptop in question, along with several cellphone cards.

Media have reported that two of his former deputies also destroyed their laptops, with one saying that he had accidentally dropped it into a bath full of water.