[WATCH] 1,075 security clearance requests in 2013 • Muscat, Busuttil in security meeting

Prime Minister, Opposition leader in security committee meeting, Muscat reassures that any hacking made by Malta Security Service is legal   

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister, Opposition leader in security committee meeting

The Security Service received 1,075 security clearance requests in 2013, requests that if granted would have allowed the recipient access to classified state secrets.

The national security committee’s annual report for 2013, and dates March 2014, was tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The report stated that the Security Service’s research and development section improved their capacity in “remote surveillance” sectors and in the “maintenance of the lawful interception system”.

They also strengthened their co-operation with foreign security services, including the Libyan one, “partially due to the maintenance and upgrading of their communications system so as to ensure a higher level of security”.

“Requests for assistance from other security services were immediately given attention and, when it was required, the Security Service responded to them after a reasonable time period. This helped it build positive relations that foreign officials themselves have confirmed weren’t it place before.”

On the newly set-up external relations and terrorism section, the Security Service “carried out a lot of important work related to terrorism, fundamentalism and other related issues”. They also carried out “intensive” work against drug trafficking, organized crime and irregular immigration. 

Earlier, Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil emerged from a meeting of the security committee almost two hours after the two met at Auberge de Castille.

Present for the meeting was also Police Commissioner Michael Cassar.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, ahead of a security committee meeting

Committee members are not allowed to divulge details of discussions held within the committee. However, both leaders confirmed that the issue of hacking by the MSS was brought up.

Muscat said that the technology used by MSS for legal interceptions of calls and emails was procured in 2011 and no other new equipment was bought.

“What is important is that the best way to discuss such issues is within the security committee meeting and I think that today we had a good meeting,” the Prime Minister added.

On his part, Busuttil refused to give any comments. Asked whether the meeting had served to placate any qualms he may have had, the PN leader repeated that he had no comments to give.

Last week, the Nationalist Party said it would seek reassurances from the security committee over allegations that the Malta Security Services had sought to purchase hacking technology that enabled it to spy on citizens' private emails and Internet activity. The story was carried again yesterday in PN organ il-Mument.

Before entering Auberge de Castille, Busuttil told MaltaToday that the nature of such a meeting was "secret" and it would therefore not be possible to give any comments.

"However, rest assured that if there is something which, as a member of this committee and leader of the Opposition, I feel should be made public, I will," he said. 

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