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2020.03.04 17:14

Lithuanian president warns against spreading ‘unsubstantiated’ claims about intelligence services

BNS2020.03.04 17:14

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has assured he trusts the country's intelligence services, following reports that the State Security Department (VSD) investigated his team during last year's election.

An unnamed whistleblower has alleged that the service illegitimately collected information about several presidential candidates and their teams in order influence the election.

Law enforcement institutions have allegedly refused to investigate the claims in the report.

Read more: Whistleblower claims Lithuania's intelligence investigated president's campaign

President Nausėda's spokesman said on Wednesday that spreading unsubstantiated information might pose a threat to Lithuania's statehood.

“The president trusts all key state institutions. The president has no information that could make him doubt their reliability,” Nausėda's spokesman Antanas Bubnelis said in a comment for BNS.

Intelligence services play a key role in identifying activities of hostile states and protecting Lithuania from their influence, according to him.

“In the president's opinion, the dissemination of unsubstantiated information should be viewed as an attempt to discredit key institutions. And the attempt to undermine public trust in them poses a threat to the country's statehood,” Bubnelis said.

According to him, the Special Investigation Service and the Prosecutor General's Office informed the president about the whistleblower's claims against the VSD and presented their investigation results. The law enforcement institutions believe that there was no crime.

Bubnelis noted, however, that a new ombudpserson office could be set up to oversee intelligence activities.

“Activities of the country's key intelligence and special services are strictly regulated by laws and other legal acts,” the president's adviser said. “But it's really worth discussing additional safeguards [...], for example, establishing an ombudsman's institution, and they would further public trust in them.”

BNS has reported on Wednesday that a high-ranking intelligence officer informed the parliament and law enforcement institutions about the VSD's operations in 2018-2019 collecting information about presidential candidate Nausėda's team as well as diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas.

The VSD has denied the whistleblower's claims.