A wiretapping operation codenamed Gorilla was indeed carried out by the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency, Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic (Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)) confirmed on Thursday, January 19. A leaked but as-yet uncorroborated file with the same codename, including claims of high-level corruption in 2005-6, has been circulating online since mid December and has received blanket media coverage in Slovakia.
Lipšic said that the Gorilla operation was legal and legitimate. "I can confirm that serious suspicions of corrupt behaviour by a certain financial group as well as other persons were registered in terms of intelligence gathering back in 2005-6," said Lipšic. The existence of the Gorilla operation has been corroborated in conjunction with the Special Prosecutor's Office and documentary evidence provided to the investigative team by Prime Minister Iveta Radičová (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)) on Wednesday, January 18.
Lipšic, who was justice minister from October 2002 until February 2006, also informed the media that then-prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda and then-interior minister Martin Pado (both SDKÚ) were notified about the links between the Penta financial group and politicians in 2006, with the case being forwarded to the Office for the Fight Against Corruption, headed at that time by Tibor Gašpar. Once taken over by the office, the classified document was unlawfully destroyed, Lipšic alleged. The case is now under investigation by an Interior Ministry investigative team.
Gašpar, responding to Lipšic's comments on January 19, denied the interior minister's claims. "I reject what the minister said about unlawful conduct and about some shredding of documentation," Gašpar told the TASR newswire, adding that the document from the SIS was given to employees of the office to verify its contents. Afterwards, the classified document was placed in the archives in line with the rules and was due to be destroyed after a prescribed period. "I reject the notion that the material was shredded in a deliberate way, as presented by the interior minister."
Lipšic has gone off the deep end, Dzurinda said in reaction to the interior minister's claim that Dzurinda was notified about potentially corrupt links between the Penta financial group and politicians. "I've never said anything anywhere as to whether or not I got what information. I just don't talk about this," said Dzurinda. He added that a prime minister is not a policeman. "A prime minister receives an intelligence report from the secret service only to make decisions that are within his or her powers," he said, as quoted by TASR. Dzurinda considers Lipšic's statements to be buck-passing. "Just because Lipšic's people were completely [inactive] for a year and a half ... they acted as if no such problem existed and their investigation solved nothing, now they are trying to put the blame on someone else. Lipšic has gone off the deep end," said Dzurinda.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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