March 31, 2016 / 3:33 PM / 2 years ago

Romania to boost anti-terrorism laws as fears over Islamist militants spread to eastern Europe

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania is planning to follow Poland and Hungary in widening its anti-terrorism laws after Islamic State attacks in Brussels, signaling growing concern among some eastern European countries over the threat of Islamist militants.

None of the three countries has ever come under attack by Islamist militants and none has a sizeable Muslim population.

But after the Brussels attacks killed more than 30 people and wounded dozens, the three countries appear to be getting nervous that they too could be targeted.

By the end of the year, Romania is looking to expand a list of crimes to include training in militant camps and spreading propaganda and recruiting online, Liviu Codirla, a member of Romania’s parliamentary committee overseeing the SRI secret service, told Reuters.

Codirla’s comments echoed sentiments expressed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who ordered the interior ministry to draw up new anti-terrorist laws shortly after the Brussels attacks.

“The target of the ... bombings was Europe, not Brussels, so Hungary has to consider itself under attack even though luckily it happened outside Hungarian territory,” Orban said.

The proposed changes in Hungary would allow the government to access data servers of private phone and internet providers and to prioritize official communications in the event of a disruption of public systems.

A draft of Poland’s new anti-terrorism bill presented last week allows the state security agency to conduct surveillance of foreign suspects for up to three months without prior court approval.

It allows for suspects to be held for 14 days without charges but with court approval, and for foreigners to be immediately deported if considered a threat. It also regulates the sale of pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

Writing by Wiktor Szary; Additional reporting by Luiza Ilie in Bucharest, Wiktor Szary in Warsaw, Marton Dunai and Sandor Peto in Budapest

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