Mendonça Mendes
In the tortuous play of 'pass the parcel' of responsibility in this story, Mendonça Mendes was fingered by João Galamba as the 'person who sanctioned the calling in of SIS (secret service) to recover the 'stolen' computer containing classified information. He now says he didn't...

Political ‘crisis’ continues: “there was no phone call requesting secret service intervention”

“Someone is lying”, say pundits, opening door to possibility that actually numerous people could be lying

COMMENT: Portugal’s almost Mickey Mouse political crisis – still focused on the ‘punch-up’ at the infrastructures ministry on the night of April 26 which saw SIS secret service agents ‘called in’ to recover an aide’s computer that held ‘classified information’ – became even more manic yesterday with the questioning of Mendonça Mendes, deputy secrerary of State of the prime minister, at a moment when almost every other senior minister in government is on an official jolly in South Africa.

Mendonça Mendes is the minister infrastructures minister João Galamba has said told him to telephone SIS (the country’s secret service) in a bid to ‘recover’ the ‘stolen computer’. 

Only, after weeks of refusing to answer press questions on this detail, Mendonça Mendes insisted that he did no such thing.

“There was no phone call”, he said – immediately countering this emphatic response with “It is a phone call reporting a situation of breach and compromise of breach of classified information”.

Continuing in this vein, the secretary of State added: “A report does not signify a request for help – like when I go to the doctor with a symptom, it is the doctor who determines what my pathology is and what prescription he should make”.

Suffice it to say, Mendonça Mendes’ performance did nothing to allay bristling political tensions. Reporters following President Marcelo, prime minister António Costa et al in South Africa have tried, and so far failed, to get any kind of comments on these surreal proceedings.

Thus the nation is left with the certainty that “there was no telephone call for SIRP (the parent organisation in charge of SIS) and/ or SIS to act”. But there seems to have been a phone call along the lines of “a report”…

What DOES it all mean, news anchors asked habitual commentators last night. These seem to agree that one thing it almost certainly means is that infrastructures minister João Galamba has run his purpose. When the PM does get round to the ‘reshuffle’ (or total clear-out) that pundits say he will be doing this summer, Mr Galamba is unlikely to be kept on in his position.

António Mendonça Mendes “gave a clear signal”: “Galamba is no longer protected”, lawyer and Tuesday evening commentator on SIC Notícias José Miguel Júdice told news anchor Clara de Sousa. But whether this really interests everyday citizens, is debatable.

Certainly, Mendonça Mendes’ statements (to the parliamentary commission of Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Liberties and Guarantees), set opposition MPs baying once again for João Galamba’s resignation “before the end of the day”. This hasn’t happened.

Otherwise, it is a case of “someone is lying” in a government that is already embroiled in so many ‘scandals’ and ‘cases’ and ‘little cases’ that most people have lost count, and possibly even interest.

Of course, that could be the plan…

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