South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) will investigate whether the information leaked in the recent Spy Cables was in fact that of the SSA, and if so, how such information was obtained and released. That was according to SSA spokesperson Brian Dube, after the intelligence agency was implicated in the cables, which reveal interactions between global intelligence agencies including the CIA, MI5, and Mossad amongst others.
The leaks have not only revealed cases of mass surveillance on citizens, but also ‘shady’ interactions between the respective agencies. The SSA has expressed concern that seemingly ‘protected’ information has reportedly made its way into the public domain.
“All those questions are important for us, because it then says to us how we can improve our own systems in place. As you know, we have a duty to always try and improve ourselves, and we have a duty to ensure that we stay ahead of those that might want to harm us in one way or the other,” Dube stated.
The agency has come under severe criticism after the cables revealed cases of “spying” on several local and foreign nationals residing in the country; some of which have raised eyebrows. Those being monitored include Greenpeace head, Kumi Naidoo, as well as several Muslim organizations and scholars. But whilst many have slammed the SSA’s choice of suspicion, Dube sought to defend the agencies right to conduct surveillance.
“The law provides that we shall, amongst other things, collect and process information with a view to ensuring that we can create conditions of security within the country. We have counter-intelligence measures that we can deploy to ensure that our country is protected from any threat that might emanate anywhere, whether inside or outside the country,” he explained.
There have been reports of several undercover agents from the SSA having been withdrawn from active duty overseas over security concerns, but whilst speculation linked the supposed withdrawals with the cable leaks, Dube was reluctant to comment on such matters whilst an investigation was ongoing. However, he noted that the SSA was not aware of any such withdrawals.
“We are saying that there have been developments which we have noted, we have indicated our concern around this, and we have indicated that we have launched a full investigation. We are saying that anything that arises out at this particular stage, for us it will be difficult to comment on who might have been behind this (the leaks),” he claimed.
And whilst some have suggested the leaks may be used be government to fuel attempts to push through the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, he rubbished such claims as “speculation of the highest order”. Furthermore, he said it was important to deal with such “distortions of information” making its way into the public domain. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)