GOVERNMENT says State investigative agencies should question the Post Newspaper over its confession that it is in possession of classified Government documents purportedly accessed through President Michael Sata (late).
Home Affairs deputy minister Panji Kaunda said it was criminal for the Post Newspaper to have accessed classified documents from State House during the reign of President Sata and has directed that the newspaper should be questioned because they were illegally in possession of the classified information.
Colonel Kaunda said while it would not be possible to find out from former President Sata how the newspaper accessed the classified documents from State House, it was the duty of investigative agencies to find out how convinced Mr Sata to release the documents.
Col Kaunda said if the Post was still keeping the classified Government documents it accessed through president Sata, the documents should be retrieved because they were the property of the State.
He said the law on being in possession of Government classified information and documents was clear and that the Post was not authorized by the law to receive State secrets from president Sata or any other Government department.
He told the Daily Nation in an interview that it was an offence for the Post newspaper to be in possession of classified documents and that it was therefore imperative that the newspaper should be made to account for illegally gaining access to classified documents from State House.
The Post in their editorial on Wednesday confessed that it was the recipient of many classified documents from president Sata and that the newspaper could not criticize him because he had become too close to them.
The newspaper claims that it got on very well president Sata and that the former president shared with it a lot of off-record things and that the late head of State briefed the newspaper on many things.
Col Kaunda said that the danger with Post keeping classified Government documents was that the State did not know what the newspaper was intending to use them for and it was only appropriate that such documents were taken back to State House.
“The law is very clear about who should have access to classified Government documents and Post Newspaper is not authorized to be in possession of such documents. It is criminal and it does not matter whether it was president Sata who gave them the documents. We do not know under which circumstances president Sata gave them such documents. If Mr Sata was alive, we would have asked him why he had given the Post Newspaper classified Government documents. The investigative wings must move in and question the Post Newspaper and retrieve the documents,” Col Kaunda said.
He said there was a possibility that the Post Newspaper could not have accessed the documents through president Sata but could have used some of its moles who were at the time working at State House. Col Kaunda said the newspaper should be ready to provide answers why it accepted to receive classified Government documents when knew that they would be committing a crime through such an act because the newspaper was not authorized to be in possession of such documents.