NEWS

Secret Cypriot papers in the trash

NICOSIA (AFP) – Cyprus police launched an investigation yesterday into how top-secret documents revealing defense missile programs and classified intelligence reports were dumped in garbage bags outside a ministry building. Red-faced government officials acted quickly after the blunder was splashed across mass-selling Greek-Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros. «This is a serious matter,» government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told reporters. «There will be a thorough investigation to find out who was last in possession of these documents and how they ended up in the trash.» Classified documents, which should have been shredded, were apparently instead left discarded outside an undisclosed ministry building in black bin liners for the garbage truck to pick up. But they remained there for several weeks in full public view. Phileleftheros said the documents covered Cabinet decisions, arms purchases, faulty weapons systems, details of military cooperation accords with Greece and Russia, and payments to Cypriots and foreigners for «special services.» Also left in the bin were sensitive intelligence service reports on anti-terror policing at Larnaca international airport and combating illegal immigration. Defense Minister Koullis Mavronicolas has launched an internal ministry inquiry as to how the documents – potentially damaging if they fell into the wrong hands on divided Cyprus – were not disposed of properly. Chrysostomides said the documents were not dumped outside the Defense Ministry, without elaborating. But the opposition has called for the resignation of the defense minister.