Government appeals against ban on lawyer phone taps

Decorative Scales of Justice in the CourtroomThe Dutch government is to appeal against a recent court decision banning the AIVD secret service from tapping lawyers’ telephones.

Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk said on Monday the security services must be able to tap lawyers’ phones when there are ‘special circumstances’ and that not to do so would be ‘irresponsible’ from a national security perspective.

A court in The Hague ruled at the beginning of July that tapping is illegal unless permission has been granted by an independent body. The court ruled that the AIVD has six months to officially change its current practices and warned that if the AIVD does not comply, it will be banned from tapping lawyers’ phones altogether.

Plasterk said in a briefing to MPs that he supports the introduction of an independent regulator but said drafting new legislation to facilitate this will take time and the six-month deadline cannot be met.

The case was brought by criminal law firm Prakken d’Oliviera, which discovered last year that the AIVD had been listening in to conversations since 2003. The security service regulator has already said some of the phone taps were illegal.

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