South African DA demands return of NIA spying material

The Democratic Alliance has demanded the return of all information gathered by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) during illegal spying on its offices.

DA intelligence spokesperson Paul Swart has written to Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils in this regard, party chief whip Douglas Gibson said on Monday.

In the letter, Swart said: "As the surveillance in question is alleged to have been carried out illegally, all transcripts of telephone conversations, intercepted e-mails, as well as all other information obtained that involves any member of the DA or its support staff cannot be legitimately retained by the intelligence services.

"If it is not returned, then this will constitute a further violation of the constitutionally entrenched rights to privacy and dignity of the DA, its office bearers and support staff."

There was every chance that the information concerned could relate to confidential party matters, and if it were to land in the hands of the DA's political competitors, could be used to the DA's disadvantage, Swart said.

On Sunday, DA leader Tony Leon asked President Thabo Mbeki to set up a judicial commission of enquiry into South Africa's intelligence agencies.

His request followed media reports that the DA's parliamentary offices were among 13 targets whose telephone calls were unlawfully monitored by the NIA.

"You cannot have a constitutional democracy with the National Intelligence Agency behaving in this fashion," Leon said.

The probe should also look at South Africa's national security doctrine "because the current doctrine virtually gives a blank cheque to spy on anybody in South Africa for any reason, without let or hindrance".

In his report on the hoax ANC e-mails released last week, Inspector General of Intelligence Zolile Ngcakani said the voice communications of at least 13 members of the public including senior members of the ruling party, the opposition, businessmen and officials in the public service were intercepted.

DA officials have said the information that the party's parliamentary offices had been targeted was apparently contained in a more comprehensive version of Ngcakani's report, which had not been made public. - Sapa

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