Spy service rejiggered

The National Intelligence Agency (EYP) is in line for a radical restructuring that will include changes to its mission and introduce accountability before Parliament, after Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday approved a bill presented by Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis. This restructuring comes at a time during which police have suddenly been making great strides in their war on domestic terrorism, during which EYP has been effectively sidelined because of weaknesses it had shown in this task in the past. Yesterday’s changes were not related to this, officials said. But they were clearly connected to the fact that for many years EYP had lost its way, did not function as a national intelligence agency and, furthermore, was believed to have been infiltrated by other agencies. «In our meeting, the prime minister and I discussed, among other things, the issue of modernizing and restructuring the National Intelligence Agency, in order to make it more effective in its mission, which is, as you know, the country’s security,» Chrysochoidis told reporters. «The bill,» he said, «foresees very important changes in EYP’s future functioning.» This includes dealing with «a number of issues involving new threats against our democracy and its citizens,» Chrysochoidis said. He said these included organized crime, the smuggling of narcotics and people, and money laundering. These new tasks will be in addition to the service’s primary task, which remains the collection of information related to national issues, Cyprus, and Greek-Turkish relations. These tasks were not clearly set out in the previous law. «The second innovation is that EYP will from now on be accountable to Parliament. Each year the public order minister, as the civilian head of EYP, will submit a report of the year’s activities to Parliament, strengthening its institutional functioning in the context of the democratic system.» Sources said that the draft bill aimed at the «revival of EYP and its functioning on a professional basis, while also instituting guarantees on human rights and citizens’ privacy.» The bill also foresees the hiring, through examinations, of 100 new specialist analysts, who will be assisted by modern intelligence analysis programs. Also, the estimated 400 police officers who are seconded to EYP will be gradually removed.