By Stefanos Evripidou
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades is expected to look into the apparent disorder within the National Guard ranks on his return from Brussels, after two British Bases security officials found themselves caught up in an internal wiretapping probe among the army’s top brass.
According to yesterday’s Phileleftheros, a senior official at the army headquarters in Nicosia suspected that either his phone had been wiretapped or secret cameras were installed in his office.
To allay those suspicions, he allegedly invited two friends, security officers at the British Bases to check his office for bugs or hidden cameras on Wednesday morning, raising the question why he did not request the services of the state to carry out the sweep.
The paper reported that others in the National Guard General Staff saw what was going on, and tipped off police that there were people at the NG headquarters who had wiretap devices in their possession.
On leaving the army HQ, the two Bases officers, both Greek Cypriot, were detained by the police outside the building and taken to CID headquarters for questioning.
The two men were carrying a briefcase containing equipment used for finding bugs or hidden cameras.
They explained why they were there, and informed police that the equipment in their possession could be bought on the internet. They were subsequently released, as police could not pin any criminal behaviour on them.
According to news reports, as word got round at the NG headquarters, shouting could be heard from within.
Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou was informed of the incident and in turn briefed the president, who was in Brussels for a European Council meeting. The president reportedly said he will discuss the matter with the relevant ministers on his return.
Meanwhile, the Defence ministry yesterday announced that internal transfers would go ahead as planned, as part of a wider effort to restructure and improve its administration.
The transfers have already started this week, involving NG officers posted at the ministry.
According to the announcement, the main criteria for the transfers are the length of service in one office, particularly if it involves financial management, such as equipment and supplies, with three years set as a maximum.
Officers will also be moved if they are needed in operational positions, particularly of low-ranking officers, who can be placed in units were there are real shortages.
Based on the number of transfers signed, the proportion of NG officers stationed at the ministry will be reduced by 37.5 per cent.
“The same measurable and objective criteria applied to all and there was no exception. The effort to reform continues. And this effort requires the support and assistance of all,” said the ministry statement.