Bill to grant military intelligence right to collect info outside Estonia ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian Ministry of Defense is seeking opinions on a bill which, among other things, would give military intelligence the right to collect information outside Estonia.

The ministry is seeking opinions on a bill of amendments to the Estonian Defense Forces Organization Act with which rights regarding the defense forces' intelligence activities would be regulated, the ministry said. For instance, the plan includes giving the defense forces the right to collect certain information outside Estonia. So far the defense forces have had such a right only in the area of an international military operation.

The law also extends the defense forces' rights to act in a situation where collecting information requires concealing one's identity. For that the regulation of an undercover agent has been drawn up, according to which the connection of a member of the defense forces is concealed.

Intelligence and early warning are of key importance to Estonia's security, and intelligence units of the defense forces have to be given more rights for collecting information necessary for national defense, Estonian Defense Minister Hannes Hanso said.

"We need knowledge about the intentions of a possible enemy to plan protecting our country," Hanso said. "It requires certain capability to collect information, which means intelligence," he added.

"Estonia is at the forefront of NATO and our intelligence ability is an important part of the whole alliance's early warning system," the minister said.

According to Hanso the changes are needed to coordinate the rights of defense forces' intelligence with the challenges of the security environment so that intelligence units could carry out necessary tasks. "Our threats and needs for collecting information are broader and are not only connected with mission areas," he said.

According to Hanso civil control over the activities of the defense forces' intelligence are guaranteed with supervisory control in the Defense Ministry and internal control measures in the defense forces. In addition, the security authorities surveillance committee of the Riigikogu has the right to get information about the intelligence activities of the defense forces, call forth persons, demand to see documents, and turn to an investigative body or the chancellor of justice in case of a suspicion.