The right of the secret services to gather information with ministerial permission has been normal practice over the past 20 years, Hungary’s counter-terrorism force TEK said on Thursday, in response to a complaint.
Two staff members of the Eotvos Karoly Public Policy Institute earlier this week turned to Hungary’s Constitutional Court with a request to annul a legal provision which allows the TEK to gather information secretly with ministerial permission, arguing that it violated their constitutional rights if secret surveillance is licensed by a minister rather than a judge.
The TEK said in a statement sent to MTI that “it is important to make it clear that the criticised activity has been common practice in Hungary since the 1990s.”
The law on national security services authorises the secret services in Hungary to work with ministerial permission to protect the country’s independence and law and order, while the law on police authorises law enforcement services to work primarily under judicial permission in criminal investigations, the statement said.
The TEK’s tasks include both types of activity, so it is covered by both laws, the statement said.
The TEK is authorised to use secret-service methods to uncover and prevent planned acts of terrorism in cases strictly regulated by the law and not against any individual in general, it added.