Citizens living in fear of surveillance

  • 2014-07-03
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - Together with lawyers, Parliament Speaker Loreta Grauziniene will analyze if the procedure for courts issuing wiretap warrants during pre-trial investigations in Lithuania is sufficiently regulated, and promises to attempt to improve laws on this during the autumn session, reports ELTA. The Parliament speaker says that the increasing number of wiretap warrants “demonstrates that wiretap warrants are granted easily and signatures are placed [by judges] liberally.”

“The figures cause serious concern for us politicians...I will discuss it with the chairs of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on National Security and Defense. Maybe it is insufficiently regulated by the law. Somehow earlier there were no such problems and now this right is used increasingly more often, and it shows that it is not normal,” said Grauziniene in an interview to Ziniu Radijas radio on June 25.

Two weeks ago it emerged that 17 employees of BNS news agency and four at the Presidential Office were being wiretapped during a pre-trial investigation related to the classified information disclosure case about possible Russian information attacks against Lithuania’s top-leaders. When revealed, Grauziniene reacted negatively to the law enforcement agencies’ actions, not only in intercepting journalists’ telephone conversations, but by their intimidation of the public regarding constant surveillance.

According to Grauziniene, wiretapping takes place far too often, which increases emotional and psychological tension, and people live in fear of being under surveillance even if they are not. The Parliament speaker said: “We must live in a free and democratic country, not constrained by fear.” Talking about sanctions issued by courts to intercept telephone conversations, she reiterated that said this has to be done only when indeed necessary. “Judges should address this issue with more responsibility.”