Spy boss Arthur Fraser says he is victim of ‘malicious’ investigation
Spy boss Arthur Fraser insists he was safeguarding South Africa’s national security when he revoked the security clearance of the inspector-general of intelligence – who he has slammed for conducting a "malicious" fraud and corruption investigation into him.
In an affidavit filed at the Pretoria High Court on Friday‚ Director-General of the State Security Agency (SSA) Fraser has vehemently denied damning allegations made against him in author Jacques Pauw’s book "The President’s Keepers".
The book alleged that Fraser set up a network of agents‚ including his own relatives‚ which could have wasted up to a billion rand of taxpayers’ money. Pauw also suggested Fraser could be guilty of treason for setting up a home computer server into which reports were fed.
But Fraser has denied "any suggestion that I acted unlawfully or issued tenders to my family"‚ and has accused Inspector-General of Intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe of trying to "re-investigate" allegations that were already probed by his predecessor four years ago.
"In fact it is my view that the purported investigation against me is malicious and at the whims of political parties aimed at discrediting me‚ the agency and the current political leadership‚" he said.
Fraser says he has evidence justifying his decision to revoke Dintwe’s security clearance‚ which he can only disclose to the judge deciding on his legal battle with Dintwe "in camera"‚ and outside of public scrutiny.
This response already suggests that Fraser will seek for part‚ or all‚ of this crucial court case to be heard in secret.
Earlier this week‚ Dintwe launched an urgent Pretoria High Court application to challenge Fraser’s revoking of his "Top Secret" security clearance – which enables him to his job. He firmly believes that Fraser revoked this clearance in effort to stop him from investigating the damning claims against Fraser contained in author Jacques Pauw’s book "The President’s Keepers".
"The facts illustrate gross abuse of public office in order to achieve improper ends. I have shown above that‚ to his knowledge‚ the director-general is the subject of investigation. He obviously knows that if he can revoke my security clearance‚ I will have no entitlement to access the necessary information. Therefore‚ the director-general is in effect attempting to block an investigation into himself‚" Dintwe said.
He further stated:
"On what I know‚ there is at least a prima facie case for Mr Fraser to answer. If‚ by his conduct‚ he is preventing the ventilation of that case through a statutorily created body‚ it is of extreme importance for a court to step in... My ability to fulfil my mandate and ensure a functional and independent OIGI and to investigate and report on complaints (most notably against Mr. Fraser himself) has been prohibited with immediate effect based on an unlawful decision taken by a director-general in an untenably conflicted position."
In papers filed before the court‚ Dintwe has also claimed that Fraser failed to co-operate with other investigations as well and refused to provide information in response to complaints against the SSA. These complaints included questions about the alleged presence of intelligence operatives at political gatherings.
Fraser now argues in court papers that he is seeking to safeguard national security‚ because the state faces "real harm if its classified documents and information continue to be exposed to a person whose security clearance may be questionable".
According to Fraser‚ the trouble between him and Dintwe started in November 2017 – mere weeks after "The President’s Keepers" was published – when he "received information from SSA sources that representatives of Parliament were in unlawful possession of classified (sic) regarding matters that relates to the SSA and have presented such information to the Office of the Inspector-General."
Fraser says he has sought to "bring it to (Dintwe’s) attention that disclosure of classified information by members and former members of the agency is unlawful and undermines the agency’s counter-intelligence responsibilities".
"I further requested him to confirm whether political representatives had disclosed to him classified information in contravention of the relevant statute‚ and if so enquired what he had done about such illegality".
Days later‚ Fraser says he received information that Dintwe had "personally and without authority disclosed classified information to representatives of political parties in Parliament".
It was this information‚ he said‚ that prompted him to begin "re-vetting" Dintwe’s security clearance. Fraser further argues that this need for re-vetting intensified after "classified" documentation from the Office of the Inspector-General was used as the apparent basis for a Sunday Times story.
Three months later‚ Fraser says he informed Dintwe that his security clearance had been revoked. It’s that revocation that Dintwe is challenging in court. The case is expected to be heard in the coming week.