Security Service looks at possible link of museum arson to foreign services

The State Security Service (VDD) is currently assessing the possible connection of those detained in the case of the arson attempt of the Occupation Museum with the special services of Russia and Belarus, the head of the VDD, Normunds Mežviets, said in an interview on the Latvian Television program "Morning Panorama" on March 14.

According to him, the case is currently being investigated by the State Police, and a total of three persons have been detained. The VDD is providing support to the police in this investigation.

"At this moment it is being ascertained whether or not these persons were connected with the foreign services of countries unfriendly to us and acted in their interests.

"If such information is confirmed during the process, I do not exclude the possibility that we, the State Security Service, will subsequently take over this criminal case from the State Police for further investigation," said Mežiets. 

He added that Russian and Belarusian intelligence services recruit people not only to carry out intelligence activities in Latvia but also to carry out malicious activities here. 

"At the moment, I have several investigations on such incidents," said the head of the VDD, pointing out that he also cooperates closely with the services of neighboring countries - Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland - in this area, as there are groups of people who carry out malicious activities in several countries at the same time.

"Also in February this year, we detained a Russian-Estonian double citizen in Latvia who had desecrated memorials on behalf of the Russian special services in the territories of Latvia and Lithuania," said Mežviets.

Mežviets also told LTV that "in some cases, court decisions on VDD's proposed cases are unclear."

He pointed out that it would not be correct to criticize the judiciary in a democratic state, but in some cases, he does not understand the principles followed by the courts, for example by applying security measures to detainees of the VDD.

"There have been a number of individuals who have simply been released from custody. Persons convicted of espionage have been released. We have a number of cases where people have immediately simply fled our country,” said Mežviets.

He believes there are grounds for a serious discussion about the courts' approach to dealing with criminal cases involving threats to national security.

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