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Warsaw raids NATO-affiliate spy center to change its leader

The new Polish government has sent military police into a fledging counter-intelligence center to oust the Polish colonel running the facility, officials claim. The spy hub is managed by Poland and Slovakia within NATO.

The troops and Defense Ministry officials encountered no resistance during the raid, which occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.

The move was aimed at replacing the head of the center, Polish colonel Krzysztof Dusza, Defense Ministry official Bartlomiej Misiewicz said.

Dusza allegedly failed to act on a dismissal order from last week.

In addition, several officials in the counter-intelligence office held on "illegally to their posts, rejecting orders," Polish deputy defense minister Bartosz Kownacki told local media on Friday.

Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski also told public radio that the employees "lost the right of access to confidential documents and should be replaced by others who have such rights."

The government has installed Colonel Robert Bala as an interim director,

the Defense Ministry

said in a statement.

Slovakia watching 'closely'

At the same time, Colonel Dusza told the TVN24 television station that he had not received his written dismissal document.

The officer also insisted he was still at the helm of the intelligence hub, which is jointly organized by both Poland and the neighboring Slovakia. A joint Polish-Slovak decision is needed to oust the center commander, according to Dusza.

The officer also told Polish public television he had informed Slovakia "and other foreign partners."

"We expect a thorough clarification of the situation from our Polish partners," the Slovak defense ministry said after the incident, adding it was following the affair "very closely."

Warsaw issue

NATO formally endorsed the center in October, but the fledging facility is not considered a NATO body, according to the military alliance.

"This is an issue for the Polish authorities," said a NATO official in Brussels, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.

"The Counter Intelligence Center of Excellence in Poland has not yet been accredited by NATO," he told the AP news agency .

Controlling security services

A number of observers claimed that the Friday raid was part of the

new government's effort

to install loyalists in top state posts. The new right-wing government has also been replacing the heads of all security services.

The opposition sharply criticized the raid, with former defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak calling it an "an absolute scandal" and apologizing to Slovakia on behalf of Poles.

dj/jm (AP,AFP)

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