Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, in parliament. / sur

Spanish government proposes to keep great State secrets confidential for up to 50 years

The text of a draft Classified Information Law which will make its way through the parliamentary process in the autumn places Spain among the most restrictive countries in terms of declassifying material

P. DE LAS HERAS / M. SÁIZ-PARDO Madrid

The great secrets of State, the ones that could cause “exceptionally serious” problems for Spain’s interests if revealed too soon, could remain under wraps for up to 50 years if a new official secrets law is approved by parliament.

The Spanish government has opted to be one of the most restrictive in the EU and among Nato colleagues in terms of declassifying sensitive material – particularly matters of defence and national security – with this draft law. Although in France certain files can be kept secret for up to 100 years if they relate to specific individuals and Germany can keep them confidential for 60 years, Spain’s measure is still far longer than the 20 years set by the UK government, the 15 years in Italy and 25 in the USA.

The new regulation, which will be officially named the Classified Information Law, will replace the one introduced by the Franco regime in 1968 and will enable the government to keep material secret forever if it believes it necessary. The final wording, which was notified on Monday (1 August) does not differ greatly from the one drawn up by Félix Bolaños in October.

Under the new law, material can be declassified after four years or up to 50 years, depending on how sensitive it is, and the period can be extended in some cases. There will be four levels: top secret, secret, confidential and restricted, depending on how much damage the information could do to Spain’s interests if released.