The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, has called on ANO chief and minister of finance Andrej Babiš to clarify past incomes. Attention has been focused on how Mr. Babiš raised the funds to purchase bonds in his company Agrofert in 2013. Mr. Sobotka said suspicions surrounding the finance minister’s dealings could undermine the work of the government and the authority of the Ministry of Finance. Mr. Babiš has dismissed the questioning of his business activities as politically motivated.
The Czech minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, plans to file a complaint against Czech Television over reports on two of its news programmes, the news website iHned.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr. Babiš says the investigative show Reportéři ČT recently celebrated its 20th “manipulated report” about his business ties. The billionaire businessman and ANO leader recently accused journalists from Reportéři ČT of being corrupt. Mr. Babiš said it and the show 168 hodin were not balanced and that Czech TV should not take part in political battles. The two programmes have raised questions about some financial operations involving the minister’s company Agrofert.
Hackers broke into email accounts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and downloaded data over a period of several months, Neovlivni.cz reported on Tuesday. Among the accounts hacked were those of the minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, and his deputies, the investigative news website said. The news site Lidovky.cz quoted Mr. Zaorálek as saying it was a very sophisticated attack; he said an “unknown state” was evidently behind the cyberhacks, which were of similar nature to those carried out against the Democratic National Convention in the US. Neovlivni.cz quoted security sources as saying thousands of pieces of data – including classified information – had been gradually downloaded from the email accounts. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied that the stolen materials included secret information, adding that the extent of the hacking had not yet been ascertained. Neovlivni.cz said the situation was all the more serious as it also concerned data concerning allies of the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic’s men’s tennis team trained on the centre court at Melbourne’s Kooyong Club for the first time on Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s Davis Cup first round tie with Australia. Non-playing captain Jaroslav Navrátil say he plans to select Jiří Veselý and the Davis Cup debutant Jan Šátral, who is 26, for the opening doubles rubber on Friday. In the absences of names such as Tomáš Berdych, Lukáš Rosol and Adam Pavlásek, the remainder of the Czech team will comprise veteran Radek Štěpánek and Zdeněk Kolář, who is 20.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has begun discussing whether to run again for head of state with a number of close associates, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said on Tuesday. Mr. Ovčáček said Mr. Zeman, who is 72, had not yet reached a decision on whether to stand in elections next January. The former Social Democrats leader plans a major news conference for March 10 and there has been speculation he will use that occasion to announce plans to seek a second and final five-year term. Mr. Ovčáček said that he was taking advice from his chancellor Vratislav Mynář, advisor Martin Nejedlý and Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the foreign affairs department at the Office of the President.
Four of five Czechs who were kidnapped in Lebanon in 2015 are planning to take legal action after the state refused their request for financial compensation. Czech Radio reported on the plan on Tuesday, quoting one of the four, lawyer Jan Švarc. Mr. Švarc and the others argue that the Czech secret services could have prevented their kidnapping if they had been better coordinated. However, the Ministry of the Interior says the organisers of their trip are to blame. The day after the abductees’ release in 2016 the Czech authorities freed Ali Fayad, a Lebanese man wanted in the US on terrorism charges. The Czech minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, later said an exchange had taken place.
One of the Czech Republic’s biggest telecoms companies, O2, announced a 4.0 percent jump in net profit to 5.3 billion crowns (196 million euros) on Tuesday. Year-on-year turnover climbed by a more modest 0.4 percent to 37.5 billion crowns. Company bosses said the increased profit for 2016 came despite a much tougher regulatory environment. 02 is just over 80 percent owned by the PPF group of the richest Czech, Petr Kellner. Big telecoms companies are under fire for offering generous packages to corporate clients which appear to be cross subsidized by high charges on private customers.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will meet with leaders of other parliamentary parties on Tuesday to hear their opinions on a proposed new law giving the military more powers to police the Internet. The increased powers have been justified on the need to boost cyber security. But they have sparked fears from NGOs and Internet companies that human rights and liberties will be undermined. The group Iuridicum Remedium warned Monday that the proposed changes appeared to be a tool for increased collection of information. Practically, the result would probably backfire with Internet security worsened, it added. The proposal is in its second reading before the lower house of parliament. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, said Monday that it would only monitor the net’s operation and that a permit from a judge would still be needed to look at the contents on pages.
NGOs and legal groups have warned that proposed laws boosting the powers of military intelligence are a threat to fundamental liberties and rights. The group Iuridicum Remedium warned Monday that the changes, justified on the grounds of boosted protection against cyber attacks, appeared merely to be a tool for increased collection of information. Practically, the result would probably backfire with Internet security worsened, it added. The proposal is in its second reading before the lower house of parliament. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, said that it would only monitor the net’s operation and that a permit from a judge would still be needed to look at the contents on pages.
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