Security Police misled government over Stasi data

We have a proper scandal with behind-the-scenes intrigue and spies and everything. Aamulehti claims (fi), based on some crack investigative reporting by its owner Alma Media's Helsinki branch, that the Finnish Security Police (Supo) has been in possession of the so-called Rosenholz files - or at least the relevant information contained therein - and disregarded a government decision to make the files available to researchers by misleading the government into believing that it didn't have the material. The files contain data that would allow putting names to codes used in East German documents of Stasi's Finnish contacts.

The backstory is that ambassador Alpo Rusi (Centre Party) was investigated in 2002 for suspected links with Stasi, apparently based on information contained in the Rosenholz files. According to Aamulehti's reporting, the security police told the government that its Stasi-related material wasn't the same as the Rosenholz files, which per government instructions should have been shared with the German Stasi archive where they could be accessed by researchers and such. The government believed that Supo was supposed to receive the files from the CIA, which had gotten hold of them via Russia, but that the files never arrived in Finland. Now Supo has admitted (fi) that intelligence information it received "contains in relevant parts the Finland-related information content of the Rosenholz material".

The responsibility for overseeing Supo lies mainly with the Interior Minister, currently Anne Holmlund (National Coalition Party). She has given comments that seem misinformed at best. In a rather extraordinary column (fi) in Aamulehti, Alma Media reporter Taneli Heikka wrote that Holmlund made an emotional phone call to his colleague in which she accused Alma Media of searching for the "weakest link". Still, she has been on the job for less than a year and the oversight failure goes back to 2000, when the Interior Minister was Kari Häkämies (Coalition), now a municipal official in Kotka. Then the portfolio passed on to Ville Itälä (Coalition), currently a MEP; Kari Rajamäki (Social Democratic Party), currently an MP; and finally Holmlund.

Supo chief Seppo Nevala has handed in his resignation citing health reasons. He had been on sick leave for months and the police claim that the timing is a coincidence. If Aamulehti's reporting proves accurate, I imagine that deputy chief Petri Knape will follow Nevala out of the door shortly. Aamulehti's interview with him (fi) deserves to be translated here in its entirety:

Reporters reached deputy chief Petri Knape in the Security Police parking lot in Helsinki on Wednesday morning.

Alma Media: "Morning. Why did the Rosenholz material from the United States dealing with Finns never reach Germany's Stasi archive, where it could be accessed by researchers and concerned parties?"

Petri Knape: "Is that tape recorder on?"

Alma Media: "Yes."

Knape: "Put it away. The Security Police has nothing to add to this matter."

Alma Media: "Why has the Security Police given ministers and the court differing information on whether the Rosenholz archive is in its possession?"

Knape: "That isn't accurate. Check your information before you write."

Alma Media: "There are documents on the matter. Why has Supo lied to the Foreign Minister that the Rosenholz archive is not in its possession, even though the state has proved otherwise in court?"

Knape: (Leaves to go indoors and stops for a moment to stare angrily through a glass door.)


No comments: