- Hans Weber
- September 27, 2023
The government will not discuss Castle’s proposal on classified information. It had no authority to submit it
The government will not consider Prague Castle’s proposal to expand the list of classified information concerning the Office of the President of the Republic (OPC), Minister for Legislation, and Chairman of the Government Legislative Council (LRV) Michal Šalomoun (for the Pirates) said on Friday. He considers the draft government measure null and void because the presidential office is not among the entities authorized to submit this regulation.
In the amendment submitted last week, the Castle proposes to include so-called administrative aids for recording classified information among classified information. These include minutes of proceedings, the interpretation of which the Castle criticized in an open letter. A protocol of proceedings is a book or notebook recording a classified document.
According to the Castle, it contains unclassified information but taken together. It may allow someone to infer certain classified information.
Šalomoun commented Friday that Castle submitted the material violating the government’s legislative rules. “Only ministries and central administrative offices can submit draft government regulations, which is what is at issue here. The OPC is not a central administrative authority. It is an organizational unit of the state providing professional, technical, and administrative services to the president. It is not within its competence to propose draft laws and regulations to the government,” the minister said.
The protection of classified information is the responsibility of the National Security Office (NBÚ), which would be responsible for submitting the proposal, Šalomoun added. “This general conclusion is also explicitly stated in the law on the protection of classified information, where the list of classified information is prepared by the NBÚ and issued by the government by decree,” he added.
Therefore, he considers the OPC proposal null and void and sees no reason for the government to address it. “I have conveyed this view to my colleagues in the government who have agreed to it,” he added. Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) said he would inform the Castle of this conclusion.
The meeting minutes requested under the Freedom of Information Act were the basis for an April report by iROZHLAS.cz, according to which the Castle is suspected of having destroyed 32 secret reports. A month ago, the head of the presidential office, Vratislav Mynář, wrote an open letter to the director-general of Czech Radio (CRo), René Zavoral, and to the CRo Council about three articles on the server, which, according to the chancellor, contained false claims, misinformation, and misinterpretations.
In the letter, Mynář argued, among other things, that the minutes of the CPR’s proceedings were interpreted in contradiction to the facts. Czech Radio rejected the notion that it was spreading misinformation in public; according to a Czech Radio spokesperson, the station had no reason not to trust the findings of its editors. The author of the articles, Markéta Chaloupská, wrote on Twitter that they were happy to substantiate everything with documents and expert opinions.