Controversy over Czech wiretaps

By EDRi · November 3, 2004

President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic has condemned a series of police telephone wiretaps as a ‘scandalous’ invasion of citizens’ privacy after press reports stated that officers listened in on his telephone conversations with a businessman.

Czech newspapers reported that police wiretapped entrepreneur Ranko Pecic, an old friend of Klaus, for four months until March 2004 and could overhear his talks with the president.

President Klaus suggested that Jiri Kolar, president of the state police, should be sacked over his remarks on wiretapping. The police chief had said tapping into private conversations by the authorities should not bother people who are innocent. “I consider what is going on in this country to be really scandalous, and I believe that it is the task of us, all citizens … who wish for freedom, to really fight against it,” Klaus said.

According to press reports police overheard Klaus’ private talks with the head of one of the opposition parties. The party is under police scrutiny after claims that it tried to bribe a member of parliament to withhold backing for the Cabinet in a parliamentary vote of confidence in August.

According to Czech media the country’s police carries out the most wiretaps per capita in Europe. The figure of 100 wiretaps per 100.000 inhabitants is is said to be cited from a study by the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Germany. EDRI-gram reported previously about the report but it does not contain information about wiretaps in the Czech Republic. In the report Italy and the Netherlands top the chart with respectively 76 and 62 wiretaps per 100.000 inhabitants.

The Prague Post: Police wiretaps infuriate president (28.10.2004)

BBC News: Czech leader in bugging ‘scandal’ (25.10.2004)

Italy and the Netherlands top wiretap chart (15.07.2004)