VILNIUS - Darius Jauniskis, the director of the State Security Department (SSD), says he has personally warned Lithuania's ex-foreign minister and long-standing diplomat Vygaudas Usackas that some people around him are linked to Russian special services.
Jauniskis told the Delfi online news site in an interview that he spoke to Usackas before the diplomat announced his decision to run in the primaries of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats for the 2019 presidential election.
“I personally spoke to him when he was not yet a candidate and told him that certain people in his circle were linked to Russian special services. I was just trying to warn him," he said.
"I am not denying that these facts may have occurred (and that there may have been) some calls to talk to people from his circle in an effort to warn (them), possibly during the election campaign," he said.
The interview came after Wednesday's reports that a high-ranking intelligence officer had informed parliamentarians and law-enforcement officials that, acting on orders from the top SSD officials, he had in 2018-2019 collected information on people in the then presidential candidate Gitanas Nauseda's circle and on Usackas.
Jauniskis categorically denies that his agency collected information about these people.
The director, whose term in office ends in April, said that despite the scandal, he is ready to continue his work "if the state needs my services".