Security Police kept internal report on phone tracing secret for nearly a year
SUPO head Nevala could be forced to step down next week
The Security Police (SUPO) initiated its first internal study on suspected tracing of telephone calls in the autumn of 2002 when a regional chief told his superior, Petri Knape, about his contacts with the head of security at the telecommunications service provider Sonera.
On the basis of oral and written reports, Knape concluded that nothing illegal had taken place. Seppo Nevala, the head of SUPO, concurred, and the issue was dropped.
The matter came up again in a discussion between SUPO and the National Bureau of Investigation nearly a year later, in the late summer of 2003, after which SUPO decided to draft a report to the office of the Prosecutor General.
The preliminary investigation reveals that contacts between the SUPO regional chief and the Sonera head of security were so close that in 2000 SUPO was given the telephone records of two foreigners suspected of industrial espionage.
However, there is disagreement between Sonera and SUPO over which side was the initiator in giving the information to the Security Police. According to the Sonera security chief, the SUPO regional head had asked for the information, while the latter maintained that the information was unsolicited.
Seppo Nevala has been asked to discuss the situation at the Ministry of the Interior on Monday, and Helsingin Sanomat has learned that he will probably be relieved of his duties in the early part of the week.
Petri Knape will also probably have to go, but the decision will be up to the head of SUPO or his substitute.
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) does not yet want to comment on the SUPO activities, saying that the issue is a difficult one.
Vanhanen, who was at the Olympic Games in Athens on Thursday, noted that the matter is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior.
He emphasised that the issue was a serious one.
"Citizens must be able to trust the activities of the officials."
Kimmo Sasi (Nat. Coalition), chairman of the Parliament’s Constitution Committee, said that scrutiny of the activities of the Security Police was inadequate.
Sasi noted that many other countries have special Parliamentary committees or bodies which are kept informed about their countries’ security police forces, and are able to supervise their activities.
"In this respect we are one of the weakest countries with respect to control mechanisms", Kimmo Sasi said.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Security Police leadership suspected of concealing involvement in Sonera snooping (26.8.2004)
Allegations of illegal tracing of phone records at Sonera to go to trial in autumn (8.4.2004)