Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev, a member of the outgoing government and who is facing criminal charges in connection with the handling of the business to overhaul MiG-29 engines, has written an open letter to the Prosecutor-General demanding answers about the use of covert surveillance against him.
In the letter to Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, posted on the website of the Defence Ministry, Nenchev said that he had not received the answers to a number of questions and found it necessary to ask them publicly.
“The answers to these questions are, I think, essential to the functioning of democracy and society,” Nenchev told Tsatsarov.
Nenchev asked whether “special intelligence means” – the Bulgarian term for covert electronic survillance – had been used against him in his capacity as Minister of Defence.
“Who ordered this, on what basis in law and for what period?” Nenchev asked.
He asked whether the individuals who carried out the surveillance had the appropriate level of access to classified information, including Nato information, which as Defence Minister, Nenchev received daily and which had the highest level of classification in Bulgaria and in Nato.
Nenchev asked what had happened regarding information that he got weekly from Military Intelligence and the Military Police, from the national command of the Bulgarian Army and from departments in the Defence Ministry and Defence Headquarters: “topics concerning strategic and operational planning, connected to national security and the security of Nato and which have been discussed in my talks with defence ministers of allied countries and military attaches of friendly countries, members of the EU and Nato”.
“Who guarantees the protection of secrecy in cases of national security and the security of the alliance?” Nenchev asked.
“Is the security of that information guaranteed and was the basic principle of the Classified Information Act, the ‘need to know’, adhered to?”
Nenchev said that such information had nothing to do with the charges against him, but would be extremely dangerous if used for political persecution and breaches of national security.
“Can you or any other competent authority give me and Bulgarian society a guarantee that no one will abuse the data and facts that have become known to them in this way and that they will not reach third parties?”
Nenchev told Tsatsarov that he owed these answers to Bulgarian citizens.
Unjustified eavesdropping on senior officials was a practice from the totalitarian past that had been rejected by Bulgarian society, when all the resources of totalitarianism were harnessed, including the Bulgarian courts and prosecutor’s office. This was why confidence in these institutions was so low, Nenchev said.
In a statement on the afternoon of December 9, the Prosecutor’s Office said that in regard to the pre-trial proceedings against Nenchev by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office and the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Sofia, no special intelligence means had been used against Nenchev at the request of the prosecution.
All other questions put by Nenchev were related to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Special Intelligence Means Act, “the texts of which are publicly available,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.