The country’s top spy, Arthur Fraser, says his legal wrangle with his department’s oversight head, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, is a part of a political conspiracy to discredit him, the State Security Agency (SSA) and the ANC.
In court documents filed on Friday, Fraser, the SSA’s director-general, said he withdrew Dintwe’s security clearance as inspector-general of intelligence because he could not be trusted with state secrets.
He said he had evidence that Dintwe “personally and without authority disclosed classified information to representatives of political parties in Parliament”, specifically the DA.
Fraser said he would only disclose his sources to the judge in camera.
In May last year, the DA lodged a formal complaint with the inspector-general’s office, asking for an investigation into Fraser’s involvement with the principal agent network programme which he, as then deputy director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, initiated and oversaw from 2007 to 2009.
“The purported investigation is malicious and at the whims of political parties aimed at discrediting me, the agency and the current political leadership,” Fraser said in his replying affidavit.
City Press understands that while Fraser had the power to withdraw security clearances, such decisions should be based on a thorough investigation and a detailed report.
SSA insiders said former president Jacob Zuma and former intelligence minister David Mahlobo appointed Fraser, despite warnings that he was not fit for the job, to the displeasure of many in intelligence circles and some in the ANC described as “the exiles”.
A source said the SSA was contested political terrain and the only way to professionalise it was to remove it from the old guard and let the younger generation take charge.
Dintwe on Wednesday challenged the withdrawal of his security clearance in court. He argued that Fraser was trying to stop him from investigating allegations that he was corrupt.
He said the decision constituted a suspension – which fell outside Fraser’s powers – because he was unable to get into his office and do his work.
The DA this week called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Fraser.
Dintwe received his security clearance in February last year, approved by Fraser. He revoked his decision on the basis that Dintwe had refused to subject himself to a revetting process.
Fraser said Dintwe could appeal internally if he was dissatisfied. He said classification included access to office premises.
He accused Dintwe of continuing to be reckless by attaching confidential documents to his court application, which meant they were available to the public.
“It is apparent that he fails to appreciate the principles of confidentiality that govern the circulation of classified documents. This failure portrays a lack of appreciation of the basic rules of the area in which he must exercise his oversight responsibilities.”
Fraser said that in November last year, informants tipped him off that representatives of political parties in Parliament had classified information about the secret activities and operations of the SSA and that this had been given to Dintwe.
It appeared that the SSA’s current and former employees were sharing state secrets with unauthorised persons. Such conduct hampered the agency from performing its counter-intelligence duties. His efforts to verify his brief with Dintwe failed, he said.
Fraser said media articles published at that time made reference to classified information in possession of Dintwe’s office. He was later told that Dintwe had passed classified information to MPs.
He said his decision to revet Dintwe was taken “in order to protect the integrity of the office of the inspector-general of intelligence, while maintaining the SSA’s counter-intelligence mandate”.
When the media leaks continued in December, he launched an investigation. He said that his request for Dintwe’s cooperation again failed.
Fraser said that according to legal advice he received, the decision to withdraw security clearance constituted administrative action which would remain in effect until set aside by a court of law.
Fraser is mentioned in Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, for having been accused of running a parallel intelligence network during a previous stint at the SSA prior to 2010.
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