Security around Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa and other top officials has come under scrutiny after a protestor invaded the stage during the PM’s speech at the Socialist Party (PS) anniversary party last week to oppose the government’s plans to build an airport in Montijo.
The ease with which 32-year-old activist Francisco Pedro was able to get up on stage and attempt to speak using the PM’s microphone has raised concern that the current security standards are not high enough.
Says Sol newspaper, “in a hypothetical situation, if the activist had had bad intentions towards the PM, he would have had time to act on them”.
Although he was unable to read the statement he had planned, the activist said that the goal was accomplished.
“Everything went as planned,” he told TSF radio, explaining it was “relatively simple” to breach the security and get on stage.
Francisco Pedro said he was part of a group of 12 people who are against the plans to build the Montijo airport and wanted to be “creative, imaginative, determined and respectful of everyone” in the way they protested the project.
He did not reveal, however, how they entered the party.
Meantime, Sol newspaper has reported that PM António Costa and President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa often “boycott” the security measures that are planned and refuse to be accompanied by security officials.
The paper reports that no kind of screening was carried out at the PS event to determine whether those who identified themselves as journalists were, in fact, members of the press.
An unidentified source cited by Sol said that political parties give little importance to security measures at the events that they organise. And as Costa was giving his speech as the head of PS and not as the country’s PM, the security surrounding him was more lackadaisical.
In official state events, it is the PSP police who are in charge of security and monitor who can and cannot approach government officials.
When the events are organised by political parties, “there is great resistance, especially during pre-election campaigns, to security measures when politicians want to be closer to people”.
Another source told the paper that PSP police present at the event must have thought that the activist was a sound technician.
“PSP know what they have to do, but the situation is tough, especially with public figures who have no sense of security,” the source explained.