Tuesday, 1 September 2015 - 10:07
Dutch investigators again caught spying on defense attorneys
Dutch intelligence service AIVD has once again been intercepting confidential conversations between lawyers and their clients, this time with law firm Seebregts & Saey in Rotterdam. This is according to a letter Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs sent to the firm after they filed a complaint, NRC reports. Seebregts & Saey specialize in criminal cases against terror suspects. Most recently lawyer Andre Seebregts represented suspected terrorist Mohamed B, who was released from custody last week. The AIVD - the General Intelligence and Security Service - intercepted and analyzed communication by so-called "targets". This involved conversations with lawyers working at Seebregts & Saey. According to the review committee on intelligence and security services CTIVD, the AIVD was not allowed to do this and their actions were "improper". Intelligence agencies may eavesdrop and analyze conversations between lawyers and their clients if the importance of the possible information gain outweighs the client privilege - when national security is at stake. According to the CTIVD, this was not the case in "most" of the intercepted conversations between the law firm and their clients. Andre Seebregts is calling for "properly firm" supervision on the AIVD. "It is important that the AIVD does not supervise itself", the lawyer said to NRC. "The CTIVD can only advise and can not stop or test eavesdropping. We would prefer that a judge does this in advance. If we want to do our work well, it is important that we can talk to our clients confidentially." In July a lawsuit filed by law firm Prakken d'Oliveira resulted in a court ruling that the AIVD should stop eavesdropping on confidential conversations between lawyers and their clients. An independent body should be established to assess whether eavesdropping is necessary. And if the policy is not adjusted within six months, the State must cease these practices. The government is appealing against this ruling.