site.btaSANS Chief: No Procedure Requires Coordination of Special Services Heads with Foreign Services, Embassies
There is no legal procedure requiring the coordination of the heads of special services with foreign special services or embassies, said the the Chairperson of the State Agency for National Security (SANS), Plamen Tonchev, who participated in a hearing in Parliament together with other heads of security services.
"We, as members of the EU and NATO, also do not coordinate candidates for heads of partner services," Tonchev said. He noted that SANS is a reliable and sought-after partner by the European and NATO services.
The hearing of Plamen Tonchev was initiated by Vazrazhdane's Parliamentary Group in connection with the allegations made by an MP from Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, that the heads of the Bulgarian security services are coordinated with the embassies of foreign countries. The hearing was prompted by a recording made at a May 21 online meeting of Continue the Change (CC) and released by MP Radostin Vasilev, which implies that the heads of the special services would be replaced and the nominees would be "cleared with the embassy".
Tonchev recalled that the appointment of SANS Chairperson is carried out in accordance with a strict legal procedure only within Bulgaria.
"None of the requirements of the law stipulates that the nomination of the chairperson or deputy chairperson of the Agency must be coordinated with anyone, including official foreign representations," he said.
He also refuted the claim that coordination with foreign special services is done in connection with some legal requirement that heads of services should have access to classified information, be it by NATO or the EU. The Bulgarian legislation explicitly specifies the procedure for access to such information. This procedure is carried out only in the structures subordinate to the Republic of Bulgaria," explained the SANS chief.
"It is interesting to know on what the allegations of Russian infiltration into the Bulgarian special services are based, which are damaging to the image of institutions and officials. I don't want to go back to the recording that was leaked in the previous week, but there it is clearly visible that this is a narrative that is convenient for someone and is being carried out at the expense of the Bulgarian special services," he added.
The SANS Chairperson said the Agency is able to detect "such cells" within its ranks on its own. "It is a publicly known case where we, ourselves, discovered our employees working in the service of Russian intelligence. They are currently facing charges and there are officials from the Russian Embassy who have been declared persona non grata," he recalled.