Latvia's Agriculture Minister still does not have security clearance

Minister of Agriculture Didzis Šmits (United List) is the only member of the government who still has not received official clearance to work with state secrets, Latvian Radio reported May 22. 

In addition, clearance still has not been granted to several members of the Saeima. Consequently at the moment, the National Security Commission of the Saeima – which includes representatives from all parties in parliament – is working in a partial capacity.

The Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) is the security service that evaluates applications for permission to work with state secrets. Currently, Šmits is the only government minister who does not have such permission. He declined to comment on this issue, while the SAB said that the institution will conclude its evaluation within the stipulated period.

"There is a deadline until July 5 when it should be known whether a special permit to work with a state secret will be issued. We do not announce this publicly, but we do let the person who submitted this request know," said SAB.

SAB is still checking the requests for permits for some members of the Saeima, but there have been no actual refusals so far.

In the previous government led by Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity), Minister of Economy Ralfs Nemiro had his security clearance withdrawn, prompting Kariņš to ask the KPV LV party to nominate another minister in his place.

In the Saeima, permission to work with state secrets is required for those deputies whose commissions may deal with issues related to state secrets. All members of the National Security Commission of the Saeima, must receive such permission.

Currently, permission has not yet been issued to Igors Judins from the "For Stability!" faction.

"Until the permit is granted, you cannot participate in the commission's meetings. I have no information that it has been refused. As far as I know, the evaluation process has not been completed. In fact, relatively quickly, it seems, in January, the majority of the commission was granted these permits," said the head of the Saeima National Security Commission, Saeima Jānis Dombrava (National Alliance).

The Law on State Secrets states that the inspection must be carried out within three months. If for objective reasons this is not enough, the deadline can be extended up to another three months.

According to SAB's explanation of its vetting procedure: "Access to official secrets is granted after detailed security vetting leading to conviction that the person in question is able to secure and protect the information entrusted to them."


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