Releasing 2014 intelligence report will prejudice national security, says court

The EFF had approached the courts to have the document released – it focuses on media reports about members of the State Security Agency allegedly being involved in unlawful activities.

State Security Agency logo. Picture: ssa.gov.za

JOHANNESBURG - The Pretoria High Court has ruled that releasing a 2014 intelligence report, as requested by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), would prejudice the national security interests of the country.

The court ruled in the State Security Department’s favour on Monday, granting an interdict against the release of the document.

The EFF had approached the courts to have the document released – it focuses on media reports about members of the State Security Agency allegedly being involved in unlawful activities.

This was after the party laid a complaint with the Public Protector’s office on the alleged unlawful existence and operation of an intelligence unit within the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

But the court said that it could not be disputed that the Constitution had vested the State Security minister with the powers to classify documents under his custody either as confidential, secret, or top secret.

The EFF argued that keeping the report from the public was futile because it had already been leaked to the media and was reported on.

The party was also adamant that the operatives cited in the report were working with an unlawful Sars intelligence unit and the State Security Agency.

But State Security was of the view that releasing this report would expose agents, compromising their work.

The department also argued that the report outlined some methods used by the agency in intelligence gathering and therefore releasing the report would impair its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The court said that taking into account the purpose of the Protection of Personal Information Act and the minister’s reasons for seeking the restriction of the intelligence report, the interdict had been granted.

The EFF has been ordered to cover the costs.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.