Parliamentarians 'Stripped' of Access to NATO, EU Secrets
A bureaucrat has single-handedly deprived the whole of Parliament access to confidential EU and NATO information, sources say.
Last year, National Security Authority Märt Kraft, whose job it is to guard and manage classified information, required all members of Parliament seeking access to classified intelligence to undergo a security check. Previously MPs, as opposed to civil servants, were not subjected to such checks but had access to secrets ex officio, reported Eesti Päevaleht.
Kraft's more stringent policy perhaps derived from a desire to clean up the smeared legacy of his position - his predecessor is a convicted spy, Hermann Simm, who sold NATO secrets to Russia.
That aside, Parliament members are not thrilled with the new rules. After a year of arguing, Parliament's National Defense Committee sent a letter to the ministers of justice and defense, inquiring for their opinion.
The committee's chairman, Mati Raidma, said MPs have on numerous occasions been denied access. “Today, not a single member of Parliament has access to classified NATO or EU information. Not even the speaker of Parliament,” Raidma said.
There is also another problem. “Not long ago, we could have dealt with Estonian and NATO confidential information separately, but today the secrets of the Estonian Defense Forces are generally also the NATO secrets. We are NATO,” said Raidma.
In a statement on Tuesday, the acting defense minister, Jaak Aaviksoo, called for legal clarity on the matter, but asserted that the National Security Authority had acted in accordance to Estonian law and international agreements.
“Eesti Päevaleht published an article giving the false impression
that the National Security Authority has acted in an unauthorized manner,” said Aaviksoo.
Aaviksoo said that the tensions have arisen due to the conflicting interpretations of access rights for elected officials.
“In cooperation with Parliament, we must find a clear solution for this legal argument, but baseless accusations directed at the National Security Authority - who has responsibly carried out the will of the law and international agreements - are not helping the situation.”