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Confidential secret service documents from Portugal “appear inadvertently” in West Africa

It sounds like something out of Monty Python, but news receiving little mention in the popular press today (Thursday) is that confidential reports from Portugal’s SIS secret services, and the PSP and GNR police, have “appeared inadvertently in a local business in West Africa”.

Detection of the leak, as Observador website calls it, has put “national, and consequently international security at risk”.

The documents were in the possession of a “citizen who appeared to be from Eastern Europe”, adds Observador.

This individual – now suspected of having links to an international arms trafficking network that involved Portuguese citizens – approached a West African company “in search of a service” and was asked by an employee of the company for various documents.

Among the paperwork he subsequently provided was “a series of apparently confidential reports”.

While the purported Eastern European then went missing (his identity is “completely unknown”, says Observador), the content of the confidential reports has proved quite shocking.

SIED, Portugal’s strategic defence information service, “was immediately contacted” and agents left Lisbon for Africa to “apprehend the documents and try and understand if they had been, in one form or other, replicated”, explains Observador.

Among the stash were 2011 and 2012 SIS reports on Hell’s Angels activity in Portugal, “tracing links to alleged crimes of drugs and arms trafficking, extortion and pimping”, and including names and addresses of purported members of the biking fraternity, as well as a number of photographs.

There was also a GNR report on “a series of thefts from hotels in the Algarve” – complete with references and photographs of citizens under suspicion – and further police-collated information on robberies from vans and lorries carrying tobacco throughout Portugal.

Included too was a further report from the Information System of the Army. It was one “used during the military exercise dubbed Intelligence”.

“As well as the positions of the military during this exercise, and its objective, there was detailed information like the names and telephone numbers of personnel responsible for training,” writes Observador.

“Some of the documents appear to have been digitalised from original documents, others appear to be digital copies of originals.”

In the same file, there were also “various security manuals on international installations, and a NATO manual on (the military exercise) Intelligence in English”, adds Observador, finally alluding to an “organigram (organisational chart) on an alleged drugs trafficking network that operated on an international level, with all its links”.

This organigram was “written in Portuguese”, says the website.

As bizarre as all this information sounds, it is barely touched on anywhere else in the national press – and according to Observador, three attempts for some kind of clarification from SIED or the office of prime minister António Costa (“to whom SIED reports”) have been stonewalled.

The Attorney General’s office has also failed to reply to questions on whether there is an inquiry now ongoing within the Public Ministry.

Meantime, Observador’s story is being rapidly shared by Internet news services.