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Austrian minister aims to tighten espionage law to ban spying against international organizations

BERLIN (AP) — Austria’s justice minister stated Thursday that she plans to tighten the nation’s guidelines on espionage, which presently is explicitly banned if directed towards Austria itself however not if it targets different nations or worldwide organizations.

Justice Minister Alma Zadic’s push to tighten Austria’s legal guidelines comes because the arrest of a former Austrian intelligence officer on allegations of spying for Russia focuses consideration on espionage actions within the nation.

Austria is a European Union member that has a coverage of military neutrality. Its capital, Vienna, is host to a number of U.N. businesses and different worldwide teams such because the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe and the Group of the Petroleum Exporting Nations, or OPEC.

Austria’s felony code presently states that anybody who “units up or operates a secret intelligence service to the detriment of the Republic of Austria or helps such an intelligence service in no matter means” faces a jail sentence of between six months and 5 years. It additionally bans organising, working or supporting a “navy intelligence service” for “a overseas energy or a supra- or worldwide physique,” which might carry a jail sentence of as much as two years.

Zadic stated in an announcement to the Austria Press Company that the nation has lengthy been accused of being an “island of the blessed” for intelligence companies from around the globe and lamented that “gaps within the regulation thus far have allowed overseas intelligence companies to spy with impunity in Austria.”

“We wish to broaden the espionage paragraphs in order that, sooner or later, our regulation enforcement authorities may act towards overseas spies when they aren’t concentrating on Austria itself, however worldwide organizations based mostly right here such because the U.N. or pleasant states,” she stated.

Zadic is a member of the junior occasion in Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s governing coalition, the Greens. Inside Minister Gerhard Karner, a member of Nehammer’s Austrian Individuals’s Occasion, informed Oe1 radio he sees the necessity for more durable penalties for spying — but in addition renewed a name for authorities to be allowed to listen in on calls by way of messenger companies, one thing the Greens have balked at.

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