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100 questions about PRISM: what has been disclosed by Polish authorities?

It has been more than six months since the US mass surveillance programme PRISM was reported in the press and we are yet to learn all the details regarding collaboration between Polish authorities and the US National Security Agency. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Panoptykon Foundation have not yet received answers to all the questions submitted to public bodies.

Let us remind our readers that in October 2013 Amnesty International Polska, the Panoptykon Foundation and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights sent a number of questions to public authorities including the Prime Minister, government departments, secret services and parliamentary committees. The questions concerned the response of Polish authorities to media reports on the operation of the US programme PRISM and their collaboration with the NSA.

The biggest disappointment so far has been the reply of the Chancellery of the President of the Council of Ministers which initially requested two months for preparing an answer to the questions. After two months, the Chancellery announced that it had no relevant information.

“The conclusions of the HFHR’s submissions addressed to parliamentary committees suggest that these bodies have not probed into the subject of PRISM”, says Dr Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President. “Only the Sejm Committee for Justice and Human Rights admitted receiving a motion from the deputy Ryszard Kalisz who requested scheduling the Committee’s session to discuss the issue. Media reported that during the meeting of the Sejm Intelligence Committee on 9 January 2014 representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that Poland had not been monitored and Polish politicians might in this respect feel safe from surveillance by US intelligence services.

Administrative proceedings concerning the access to information requests filed by the HFHR to secret services agencies in early January 2014 are still pending. The Foundation complained to a Provincial Administrative Court against the Central Anti-corruption Bureau’s refusal to provide some of the requested information. Also the Military Counter-intelligence Service, the Internal Security Agency, the Military Intelligence Service and the Intelligence Agency refused to answer certain questions asked in the access to information request. The HFHR applied to these agencies for re-consideration of the requests.

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