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Head of Security Police suspended - decision on deputy coming later
Seppo Nevala, the head of Finland’s Security Police (SUPO), was suspended from his post on Tuesday. The decision by Minister of the Interior Kari Rajamäki (SDP) will be reconsidered after the completion of a police investigation into allegations of Nevala's possible involvement in the improper tracing of telecommunications information.
The decision was reached after Nevala had been interviewed by National Police Commissioner Reijo Naulapää. Nevala himself denies any wrongdoing.
During his suspension Nevala's duties will be taken over by SUPO department chief Hannu Moilanen.
At a press conference held on Tuesday, Interior Minister Rajamäki said that the suspension was necessary for reasons of credibility.
"The post of the head of the Security Police requires special public trust, and he can be expected to show greater consideration than usual in his official duties", Rajamäki said.
The Ministry of the Interior has had access to the material gathered in the preliminary police investigation into the case.
Rajamäki and Interior Ministry chief of staff Ritva Viljakainen emphasised that the suspension is not a statement on any possible prosecution, and does not take a stand on possible criminal culpability.
A decision on the possible suspension of Petri Knape, the head of the operative section of SUPO, is expected on Thursday, once he is interviewed.
Decisions concerning a third suspect, a SUPO regional chief who is now on sick leave, are to be made later.
Interior Minister Rajamäki said that the matter is regrettable, but warned against condemning all SUPO activities on the basis of this case.
Rajamäki also rejected a call by MP Kimmo Sasi (Nat. Coalition), the chairman of the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee, for setting up a Parliamentary supervisory body for SUPO.
The case is linked with the scandal surrounding allegations of tracing of mobile telephone calls of employees of the mobile service provider Sonera by that company’s top management. The alleged purpose of the activity was to find the source of embarrassing press leaks.
Just over a year ago the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Security Police noticed that information had been extracted from Sonera’s systems on the calls of foreigners suspected of espionage. The law requires that a court order be obtained for such a move. However, none was sought.
Petri Knape admitted to NBI investigators in the summer of 2003 that the case involved the espionage investigations of one SUPO regional chief which took place in 2000.
The regional chief admitted to having been in touch with Sonera’s head of security, Juha E. Miettinen, who was being investigated for possible violation of telecommunications privacy.
Sonera’s head of security at the time says that the SUPO regional chief had asked for the information, while the security chief said that the information was unsolicited and unexpected.