Six ministers still awaiting security clearance

Take note – story published 5 years ago

LSM recently reported on the fact that the majority of members of the Saeima's National Security Committee are still awaiting security clearance to deal with state secrets, and it emerged January 30 that almost half of the new government's ministers are in a similar position.

Of thirteen ministers, seven (plus Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš) have the necessary clearance to deal with classified materials - an essential part of the job - but six are still awaiting a verdict from the security services, the LETA newswire reported.

"Six ministers are still under examination and a decision will be taken as quickly as possible," the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) said of the situation, LETA reported.

SAB Director Jānis Maizītis previously publicly stated that the SAB's checks on individuals are usually completed in about two months. The law provides for a maximum inspection period of three months, but this may be extended for a further three months if necessary. 

The law mentions seven reasons why a person may be denied access to confidential and secret information, including if the person has been an employee or agent of the security service of the USSR or a non-NATO and non-EU member state.

Access to state secrets objects is also denied to a person "about whom facts have been found in the course of an inspection that gives grounds for doubting his credibility and ability to maintain state secrets", as well as to a person who has been diagnosed with psychiatric and behavioral disorders, including disorders due to alcohol or drug use.

However, the length of time it takes to obtain clearance came under criticism from some parties during and after Latvia's October Saeima elections, with some arguing that it could give the security services an effective veto on the appointment of people elected by democratic vote. 

An official secret is defined as "military, political, economic, scientific, technical or other information the loss or illegal disclosure of which may cause harm to the security, and economic or political interests of the State." 

SAB performs personnel security vetting in order to grant and renew personnel security clearances (PSC) for access to official secrets and also checks and accredits premises to be used in work with classified information.

Information containing official secrets can be classified as SEVIŠĶI SLEPENI (TOP SECRET), SLEPENI (SECRET) and KONFIDENCIĀLI (CONFIDENTIAL).

"The decision to deny a PSC can be appealed to the Director of SAB within 10 days (if denied by the Security Police or the Defence Intelligence and Security Service) whose decision can be further appealed to the Prosecutor General. No further appeal procedures are foreseen," according to SAB's website.

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