Lisbon’s City Government Is Sharing Activists’ Personal Details with Foreign Powers

The City Council has apologized, but they've admitted to sharing intel with foreign powers before.

Lisbon’s city council handed over the personal details of three anti-Putin activists to the Russian authorities, Público reports. Expresso and Observador initially broke the story on Wednesday night and reported that the activists requested permits to organize a demonstration in Lisbon against the imprisonment of Alexei Nalvany, leading Russian opposition leader. The city council proceeded to forward the names, addresses, and other personal information to the Russian embassy in Portugal and to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The three activists have both Portuguese and Russian citizenships and at least one has voiced concerns about returning to Russia now that her personal information has been compromised. 

According to Observador, the city council recognizes the fault in their actions and will do everything in their power to avoid this type of incident in the future. Lisbon’s Mayor, Fernando Medina offered a public apology for this “regrettable mistake.”

However, the municipality also acknowledges that it is their common practice to share intel about organized demonstrations and rallies with the authorities of foreign powers.

In the aftermath of the Russian activists’ story, other similar cases have resurfaced. Público reported three separate incidents in 2019 when Ricardo Medina’s office turned over activists’ details to foreign governments.

In June, 2019 the Comité de Solidariedade com a Palestina (Solidarity with Palestine Committee) requested a permit to organize a Pro-Palestine rally outside the Coliseu dos Recreios and the city council sent the organizers’ personal information to the Israeli embassy in Portugal, according to the news outlet. 

When organizers of the event learned of this, they demanded answers. According to members of Comité de Solidariedade com a Palestina, at this point, the city council informed them that this was protocol and told them about two other incidents in which the municipality had also contacted diplomatic entities.

For instance, when the activist organization Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete (Tibet’s Support Group) organized a demonstration in April of 2019 to celebrate the birthday of Panchen Lama (the second highest ranking figure of Tibetan culture, after the Dali Lama), the city council reportedly provided details about the event to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

In June of the same year, the municipal government notified Venezuelan authorities about rallies organized in solidarity with the Venezuelan people. 

The city council told Público that the total number of demonstrations communicated to diplomatic bodies in Portugal is yet to be determined and denied having disclosed to Comité de Solidariedade com a Palestina that they had provided activists’ personal information to China and Venezuela.

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