Clients fear lawyers' offices bugged by intelligence agencies

A number of Amsterdam law firm Prakken d'Oliveira's clients are refusing to communicate with their attorneys by phone or email because they are afraid that the General Intelligence and Security Service, or AIVD, is listening in, the Parool reports.

In December it was revealed that the AIVD had been eavesdropping on conversations between clients and lawyers of the firm since 2003. The firm filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government.

On Wednesday lawyer Sebastien Diekstra appeared in court on behalf of the Council of European Bars. The lawyers are demanding that the AIVD and MIVD, Military Intelligence and Security Service, stop eavesdropping on conversations between lawyers and clients without the intervention of an independent judge.

According to Lawyer Michiel Pestman, lawyers are now forced to speak with their clients face to face, which is time consuming. The lawyers believe that the practice infringes on the right to a fair trial. Everyone should be able to assume that communication with a lawyer is confidential. They find the current system - whereby the Supervisory Commission for Intelligence and Security Services afterwards reviews whether a tap was lawful - insufficient.