Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk and defence minister Jeanine Hennis were told last November 22 that the 1.8 million items of information about phone and internet traffic were probably gathered by the Dutch security services.
Plasterk told parliament in October the information had been collected by the Americans but was forced to retract this last week.
In a statement on Monday, Plasterk told MPs he and Hennis had been forced to make a choice between fully informing parliament and ‘not going public with the way our security services work’. The national interest was the overriding factor, Plasterk said.
The minister told parliament last week the Dutch, not the American, secret services were responsible for collecting information on 1.8 million satellite phone calls plus text and fax traffic and that the information had then been shared with the US authorities.
Parliament is due to debate the latest information on Tuesday. Opposition MPs want to know if Plasterk deliberately misinformed parliament last year when he stated NSA was behind the information gathering.
Plasterk told MPs in October the Americans were behind the tapping, after the revelations were first published in German magazine Spiegel.
However, in a two paragraph briefing last Wednesday, Plasterk said the information had been gathered by the Netherlands itself.
‘The details were collected in the interest of counter-terrorism activities and military operations abroad,’ the briefing stated. The information was then ‘correctly shared with the US’.
Although Plasterk is under considerable pressure, political pundits say it is unlikely he will be forced to resign.
Deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher said on Friday he had full confidence that Plasterk would survive the debate.
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