More spies in Hungary than before Nato

BUDAPEST, Jan 24, 2000 -- (Reuters) There are more spies in Hungary today than there were before it joined NATO, Hungary's minister for civilian security services said in an interview published on Monday.

Laszlo Kover, minister without portfolio, said the increase was understandable because Hungary's joining the Western military alliance in 1999 had posed a threat to certain big powers and countries in the region.

He did not name the countries spying on Hungary, nor did he give any estimates of the numbers of spies operating in the country in the interview with the economic daily Vilaggazdasag.

Kover told the paper that the situation was understood by the U.S. intelligence services, which were cooperating closely with the Hungarians.

"We are a reliable partner and can provide information which would be inaccessible to the allies without us," he said.

"We live in Central Europe and this gives us insights that people in Washington, Paris or London do not have," he added.

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