Kasrils backs Sanef against spy 'paranoia'

2011-11-17 22:36
Cape Town - Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils has come out in support of the SA National Editor's Forum (Sanef) after it again threatened legal action if a public interest defence clause is left out of the protection of information bill.

"I also fully endorse Sanef's protest regarding the security minister's, and other ANC MPs, disgraceful assertion that members of civil society protesting against the bill are agents of foreign spies," he said in a statement on Thursday.

"This is precisely the mindset that I fear... Consider the impact of such inflamatory statements on members of the intelligence services."

They would be encouraged to adopt a mindset already noted for "excessive secrecy, exaggerated fears and paranoia", he said.

"The present regrettable and dangerous culture within the intelligence services need to be reformed," he said.

Sanef said on Thursday it was concerned over State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele's refusal to allow such a defence in the bill.

"Such a clause would enable a journalist, whistle-blower, or citizen who disclosed classified information, if charged, to enter a defence plea of publication in the public interest," Sanef said in a statement.

Last week, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe voiced appreciation for Sanef's view that it would be for the courts in every case to decide whether the public interest defence held.

He suggested this created the basis for a "meeting point" on the issue, sparking hopes that such an amendment could be considered for the bill, Sanef said.

Despite this, Cwele told the National Assembly on Wednesday that the ANC could not support such a defence.

"He stated that no other country had such a clause in similar legislation, quietly ignoring the fact that the United States and other countries have other mechanisms in their legislation to provide the protection sought."

Sanef also took strong exception to Cwele's assertions that "foreign spies" were paying civil society groups to oppose the bill.

"Sanef is one of the groups that oppose the bill and rejects the minister's claims as insulting and libellous."

Sanef noted Cwele's admission that following sustained pressure by critics, many amendments had been made to the bill.

These improvements had been based on well-thought out arguments and reasons.

"Sanef not only rejects Cwele's wild allegations but calls on him to provide the proof to back them."

If Cwele's latest obdurate stand prevailed and the bill was passed without the safeguard, Sanef and other critics would have no alternative but to press for the legislation being referred to the Constitutional Court for it to rule on its constitutionality.

"The alternative is that important information will be withheld from the public," Sanef said.

Read more on:    anc  |  sanef  |  ronnie kasrils  |  siyabonga cwele  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  info bill  |  media

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
19 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
SA road trips you’ll never forget

Fill the tank and head for the open road to see our beautiful country at your own pace.

/News
 

Must see! The most luxurious dog house!

This dog house comes with a treadmill and hot tub, you have to see it!

 
 

Luxury living

Exciting new luxury SUV arrives in SA!
WIN!
Ridiculous demands people with too much money make
8 of the priciest places to dock your yacht
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are a high flier with idealistic and set standards. There is a tendency to be too idealistic or fixed on one way and this can...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.