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Evidence: Bosnia Serb Army Spied on NATO

April 1, 2003

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Evidence found during a raid of Bosnian Serb military offices indicates the army spied on NATO troops and other international officials in Bosnia, a NATO spokesman said Tuesday.

An analysis of evidence found March 7 in military intelligence offices in Banja Luka indicated the military spied at least all of last year, Capt. Dale MacEachern said.

NATO peacekeepers seized documents indicating the Bosnian Serb Army ``collected and maintained intelligence″ on peacekeepers, European Union police and the office of Bosnia’s top international official, Paddy Ashdown, according to MacEachern.

The spying also targeted Bosnian state institutions and private citizens, he said, adding that it appeared the Bosnian Serb government approved of the activities.

``These actions equate to treating legally constituted organizations, charged with administering and keeping the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as hostile organizations,″ MacEachern said.

Branko Trkulja, a spokesman for the Bosnian Serb Defense Ministry, declined to comment, saying the ministry had not received official information about the alleged spying.

The 1995 peace agreement that ended 3 1/2 years of fighting divided Bosnia into two separate parts: the Bosnian Serb republic and the Muslim-Croat federation. Each part has its own army, but the two are linked by a joint parliament, presidency and government.

The agreement requires Bosnia’s two armies to act in a transparent manner and help peacekeepers, international officials and local authorities.

The evidence of spying was given to Ashdown, who as the top international official has the authority to impose laws and fire local officials as high as presidents if he considers them to be obstructing the peace agreement or Bosnia’s development toward a modern democracy.

Ashdown is expected to decide this week what to do about the spying evidence, his office said Tuesday.