2020.02.25 12:19

Lithuania moves to limit publicity of defence documents

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.02.25 12:19

The Lithuanian Defence Ministry proposed introducing "official use" label for sensitive information in the national defence system, saying this would make it easier to share information with NATO and EU partners. 

According to the ministry, the new label would help manage information that is not classified but whose public disclosure could pose risks. It would be the national equivalent to the NATO UNCLASSIFIED or EU LIMITE markings.

Read more: State security eyes more powers under Lithuanian president's proposals

In late 2019, the ministry withdrew a bill that would have enabled the 'official use' label by all authorities, not just the defence ministry.

Under the earlier proposal, the 'official use' label would have applied to information related to all issues that were yet to be decided by the authorities. Critics then said that the amendments would have restricted the media's access to information.

Under the new amendments that were registered on Monday, the label could be used for unclassified information "on military capabilities and the development of military capabilities, and international military cooperation, and the organisation of the security of military areas".

The restrictions would remain in place "for as long as its disclosure could undermine national security and defence interests".

The restricted documents could include data on planned military exercises, memoranda from international negotiations, and information on the level of vigilance in a military area.

Vita Ramanauskaitė, the Defense Ministry spokeswoman, said anyone who would make an unauthorised disclosure would face disciplinary action.

The new label "would facilitate the exchange of sensitive information with allies and, when needed or necessary, to share it faster with a wider audience," she told BNS.

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