12 APR 2011
By Andrew Rettman (EU intelligence bureau sent officers to Libya
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU's intelligence bureau, the Joint Situation Centre, has recently sent people to Libya. But its new director says there is little prospect of turning it into a genuine intelligence-gathering service even in the "long term."
Speaking to EUobserver in the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday (11 April), Joint Situation Centre chief Ilkka Salmi confirmed that one of his staff accompanied a European External Action Service (EEAS) fact-finding mission to Tripoli on 6 March and that another one took part in a visit to Benghazi on 5 April.
"We want to avoid the impression that these were spooks of any kind. They were technical specialists who went to help with satellite phones and that type of thing. There was certainly no tasking," he explained. "These are the only missions of this kind that we have carried out since I became director two months ago."
'Tasking' is intelligence jargon for being asked to get information on a given subject.
Salmi, a former Finnish secret service chief, earlier told MEPs in the civil liberties committee that the Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) is different from member states' services because it does not hunt for its own information and because it looks at "strategic" threats instead of "operational" intelligence on individual people or terrorist plots.
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