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Special Service For National Security

The history of SSNS

The history between 1918-1990.

The Hungarian system of secret services became a stable one after the disintegration of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in the early 1920's.

Between the two World Wars, the Hungarian State Police directed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Military Intelligence and Counter-espionage directed by the Ministry of Defence, and the Hungarian Royal Gendarmerie directed by both of the Ministries had their own operational capacity.

In the middle of the 1920's, the wiretapping branch operating within the MIA Central Investigation Department was able to monitor the communication of 80-100 subsets at the same time.

This structure existed unchanged until 1945, basically. Simultaneously with the moving forward of the soviet troops, the organs of the government began to re-establish the former system of the secret services in the eastern part of the country.

After WWII in 1946 the so called "State-protection Division" as political police became independent from the police, and had several operational-technical branches.

XI. subdivision
providing technical means
radio monitoring, surveillance
photography, encryption, forensics
XII. subdivision
postal censorship
XIII. subdivision

The task of technical support of the secret service activities was divided between the subdivisions within the different branches in the State Protection Authority (renamed in 1947) which became more and more independent from the MIA. In addition, after 1950, the State Protection Authority provided special services for the Military Political Directorate of the Ministry of Defence acting as Military Secret Service.

In 1953 simultaneously with the internal political changes, the State Protection Authority – which acted nearly as an independent ministry so far – was abolished.

The secret service was integrated into the body of the MIA again, and it was reorganized in 1955 with the name of I. (State Protection) Directorate, with the following supporting units:

VIII. Department
physical surveillance, vetting
IX. Department
operative tech, radio surveillance
XII. Department
postal censorship
XV. Department
encryption centre, news monitoring

After beating down the revolution in 1956, the MIA Political Investigation Department (with divisions) was established in the spring of 1957, which – with slight modifications – kept the structure created during the so called "state defence era".

IX. Division
physical surveillance, vetting
X. Division
operative tech
XII. Division
Nationwide encryption centre
XIII. Division
postal censorship

The MIA III. (State-defence) General Directorate was established in 1962, in which the (operative-technical) Directorate (III/V.) and the independent operative divisions provided the operative-technical support for all the secret service activities – including the military intelligence separated from the MIA – in the entire Hungary.

The reorganization in the MIA finished in the early 60's, resulted in the new system which – with the structure of Directorates – became the ultimate structure of the state secret police till the abolishment of the MIA III. General Directorate in January 1990.

The "SSNS related" activities were carried out under the different organizational structure of the MIA III. General Directorate between 1964 and 1990. These activities include the installation, development and maintenance of the operative technical devices, physical surveillance, vetting, operative technical wiretapping, radio surveillance, printing-technical, chemical activities needed for the creation of covering documents and for postal censorship and analytical, controlling and management duties.

The history of the SSNS in the period of the Third Republic of Hungary (1989-2010).

The special support activities for covert information gathering – as well as the regulation of the national security activities – could become independent only after the change of the political system and the establishment of the democratic conditions of the rule of law. As it was stipulated in the 40/A § (2) of the Constitution of the Republic declared on 23rd October 1989, the detailed regulations concerning the police and the security of the state must be stipulated only in a Constitution-level Act. After the so-called “Duna-gate” scandal in January 1990, when the state secret police III/III Directorate carried out secret surveillance of opposition party members, further postponement of the issuance of the legal regulation was not possible.

The Act X. of 1990 on the temporary regulation of the special means and methods of secret services and the Govt. Decree 26/1990 (II. 14.) on the temporary regulation of the carrying out of the national security duties were passed by the Parliament on 25th January 1990. After the coming into force of this latter regulation two military and two civilian services began to operate. The MIA III/V. (operational-technical) Directorate, along with the separate operational-technical divisions of the general directorate was embedded into the structure of the National Security Office, which was the successor of the MIA III/II. (Counter-espionage) Directorate.

One and a half year after the parliamentary elections in 1994, which resulted in a two-third governmental majority, the Parliament passed the Act CXXV. of 1995 on the national security services on 19th December 1995. The Act separated the Special Service for National Security (SSNS), which provided technical-operational support for covert information gathering, from the structure of the National Security Office. The governmental direction of the SSNS, as well as the counter-espionage and the intelligence was within the competence of the minister without portfolio (1996-2002, and 2007-2010) and the minister leading the Prime Minister’s Office (between 2002 and 2007).Since the summer of 2010 – after the amendment of the said Act on the national security services – the direction of the SSNS has been under the Minister of Internal Affairs.


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