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Secret service documents to be released after 30 years

 

Secret service (Kyp) documents will be declassified after 30 years, but not all will be published, according to regulations discussed in parliament on Wednesday.

Initially, Kyp wanted its classified documents to be withheld for 100 years, a period deemed excessive by many.

Kyp chief Kyriacos Kouros told the House ethics committee that the timeframe “which sounded excessive for some of you came after the suggestions of the personal data protection commissioner”.

Kyp had been asked to take into account how the descendants of people mentioned in the documents would be affected.

Kouros had submitted a confidential memo to the committee outlining how other services approached the matter.

“We relied on services in other democratic regimes, which have longer experience in managing archives such as those of the intelligence services,” Kouros said.

Kouros said declassification of a document after 30 years could send it to the state archives but it would not be up to Kyp to make it available to the general public.

The director of the state archive, Efi Papaparinou, said that she was obliged to enforce the law on personal data.

She told MPs that certain information, like someone’s sexual orientation, could be redacted.

At the same time, if a document reaches the archives “it cannot be considered filed without people having a right to see it.”

Committee chairman Zaharias Zahariou said they would reconvene in 15 or 20 days to discuss the regulations in-depth with a view to having them approved by the end of this month or early in June.

The law to overhaul Kyp was passed in 2016 but the regulations on the declassification and publication of documents has still to be passed.

Zahariou said an advisory committee would be declassifying all documents and those which were cleared would be sent to the archive to be made available to the public.

The Disy MP said a new era had dawned for Kyp.

“The old Kyp, as we knew it, the Kyp that kept tabs on people has ceased to exist,” he said. “The modern Kyp is the one that protects the state and the people.”

Akel MP Aristos Damianou said his party still had some disagreements on certain aspects but it was prepared to discuss them in a bid to strike the necessary agreement.

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Source: Cyprus News Agency

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