Spying on defense attorneys sparks lawsuit against Dutch gov't

Lawyer firm Prakken d'Oliveira has filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government for the AIVD eavesdropping on lawyers' conversations with clients, Volkskrant reports.

Last year the lawyer firm filed a complaint with Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs, believing that the General Information and Security Service (AIVD) was eavesdropping on their telephone conversations with clients. According to the firm, their suspicions were confirmed by Plasterk's reply. Among others, the firm defends a number of suspected jihadists, including Oussama C. who is suspected of recruiting for the jihad.

An investigation by supervisory committee CTIVD found that Prakken d'Oliveira's phones had been tapped since 2003. The CTIVD concluded that the secret service acted "improperly" in some cases. In December Plasterk sent a message to the lawyer firm regarding the investigation. He refused to disclose the CTIVD's report as it could give insight into the workings of the AIVD. The letter did not state that the AIVD stopped eavesdropping on the lawyers.

"It is sad that Plaster could not come to the conclusion that this can not be allowed himself." Michiel Pestman, one of the lawyers, said to the newspaper. "Therefore we have no choice but to ask the court to immediately stop the eavesdropping on us. It is in the interest of the law that we are able to speak with our clients in confidence." The lawyers consider the wire tapping to be in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union's law.

According to the Volkskrant, the lawyers are opposed to the fact that the considerations within the AIVD are secret and they only need to get permission from the minister responsible for the AIVD before tapping a lawyer's line. They want a independent judge to test whether it is necessary before a lawyer's phone is tapped. They also point to the system of number recognition that the police already use. This system automatically stops tapping if a client is calling a lawyer.