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Govt security chief to probe politicians' wiretapping claims

The cabinet’s chief of security says the administration will begin investigating claims of mobile phone eavesdropping by two politicians. The security boss was responding to reports by the Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet that former Defence Minister Carl Haglund and senior National Coalition MP Ilkka Kanerva may have been targets of wiretapping.

Ilkka Kanerva.
National Coalition MP Ilkka Kanerva says he suspects he may have been targeted for wiretapping. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

According to the Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet, both parliamentary defence committee chair Ilkka Kanerva and ex-Defence Minister Carl Haglund said they may have been victims of phone espionage.

Kanerva, who is also the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE, told HBL that he had previously reported his suspicions to Finnish security officials.

The paper reported that both men based their suspicion on disruptions during their phone calls that suggested their phone communications were being monitored.

According to cabinet security chief Jari Ylitalo, the assumption of wiretapping is a serious matter and unacceptable.

"Of course in this case we’re talking about a former minister and a Member of Parliament, so that doesn’t make the matter any less serious," he added.

Ylitalo said that apart from the newspaper report, he had not received any information about Kanerva’s and Haglund’s suspicions. He said that efforts would be made to investigate the claims on Friday, by finding out more about the disturbances both men experienced during their calls, as well recording as their statements on the matter.

The security chief noted however, that there had been general discussion of the issue in recent years.

"It’s also clear that members of the cabinet know the limits of telephone usage and what kinds of subjects they should discuss on the phone. The basic position is that the phone should be treated as a public tool," he cautioned.

"Matters that are considered classified or confidential should not be dealt with over the phone," Ylitalo stressed.

Finland’s security intelligence police Supo also shared its views on the suspected wiretapping. According to communications head Jyri Rantala, it’s well known that eavesdropping on mobile phone calls is easy.

Rantala told Yle that Supo has long advised high-ranking members of state to avoid discussing classified matters on the phone.

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