For You


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main mission of SIS?

We are an intelligence service of the Slovak Republic. Our task is to collect intelligence that is important for the security and the protection of foreign, political and economic interests of our country. We are interested in information about threats, such as international terrorism, cyber terrorism, proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction and their components, economic crime, illegal migration, various forms of political extremism, etc. We try to provide state representatives and state administration of the Slovak Republic with quick, high-quality and objective intelligence or information that support decision-making process properly.

Who oversees SIS and how?

The special oversight committee oversees SIS activities in a scope defined in § 5 and § 6 of the National Council Act 46/1993 Coll. on the Slovak Information Service. Currently, only MPs may become officers of the Oversight Committee (15 officers, the chairman is nominated by the opposition). The Committee meets on a quarterly basis and any of its officers may summon it. The Oversight Committee is obliged to notify any law violation, if any is discovered when exercising its powers, to the National Council, General Prosecutor of the Slovak Republic. Respecting the nature of the matter it may also notify the Government of the Slovak Republic. The Committee officers and any other persons attending or participating in meetings upon Committee officers’ approval are required to keep facts learned at these meetings confidential and protect classified information under special regulations.

Do the SIS officers carry guns?

Yes, our officers are trained to use arms; they attend regular trainings and undergo strict psychological tests. They are also examined on a regular basis.

Do the SIS officers work abroad and at embassies?

Of course, it is common for any service operating abroad. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic (MoFA) is one of the recipients of information collected. We provide support to the MoFA that is important for performing its diplomatic tasks. In compliance with the agreement with MoFA, our officers work as official representatives at embassies abroad. Since these diplomats declare their affiliation with the Service publicly they work as diplomats and partners of the official representatives of other services working at the embassies. This is called intelligence diplomacy and is a standard part of the diplomacy itself. In a current globalised situation, it is necessary to approach issues on a liaison and common basis.

How many SIS officers left the Service (gave their own notice or otherwise) from 2000 to 2012?

SIS does not comment on personnel issues. Regarding its officers and their activities, SIS strives to implement a low-turnover personnel policy.

Are you entitled to arrest or interrogate?

No, we are not. SIS is not a secret police. We do not take any repressive measures. SIS is not a law-enforcement body in criminal proceedings.

Is future professional career of ex-SIS officers limited (legally, contractually)?

SIS requires high professionalism from its officers due to their special assignments performed and working positions held at the intelligence service, commonly associated with their expertise. Our officers can make use of collected knowledge in their future professional career. After the SIS officers leave the Service, they are obliged to keep any information learned during their service confidential under the law on the protection of classified information.

How do you select new SIS officers?

The selection process and criteria for hiring SIS officers are regulated in the Act 73/1998 Coll. Additional conditions of recruiting them depend on personnel requirements for specific positions in the intelligence service and they are supplied on an on-going basis. With respect to the nature of our activity, applicants must meet challenging requirements. Applicants for the civil service in the intelligence service must take into account that this selection process is stricter than any other job interviewing process. Each applicant must voluntarily undergo challenging tests focused on his/her reliability and personality traits. The selection process involves psychological, physical and medical tests and assessment of their security reliability. The SIS officers must acknowledge that due to their affiliation with the intelligence service they must curb a natural human trait – a desire for public recognition - and keep their achievements confidential. Due to security reasons they must realise the intelligence service is legally authorised to intrude their privacy.

If someone publishes information on his blog that “A. B.” works for SIS and manages such-and-such department, will SIS take a stand on such information, confirm or deny it?

No. The intelligence service must not comment on any personnel issues, i.e. confirm or deny their affiliation with SIS because personal data of the officers linked to their alleged service are subject to classified information. The same is applied to structure and organisation matters. Unauthorised handling of such information, including their disclosure, is illegal.

Who can become a secret agent? What are the basic prerequisites? Where should I start?

First of all, it is necessary to clarify the essentials. The term “agent” is used in two or three meanings and these are often misinterpreted in non-intelligence environment. In media the agent has two different meanings. It is an agent of intelligence service or police, or an intelligence officer. The meaning of these terms is completely different.

Agent is of Latin origin “agens” meaning active. In general and various scientific fields it has a wide range of uses and meanings. In the continental Europe and Great Britain they distinguish between officers and agents; however, these two terms are often confused in literature or in verbal use. In connection to the intelligence and secret police the term “agent” has been used in Europe since the mid of 19th century exclusively in the meaning of “the agent”, often having negative connotation, pejoratively “a grass, rat, fizgig, etc.” According to the definition the agent is not a member of the police or secret service. The agent is “an outsourcer” and anyone acting so. The agents have concealed connection with case officers (service members) of the service or police who run them. There are different types of agents. Officers are civil servants in services.

Is it possible to study this subject field? What should I know if I want to work for an intelligence service?

It is clearly defined in the law what conditions applicants are required to meet. All candidates must also have high professional and human qualities. Whether one is a fan of James Bond or Jason Bourne movies is not really what qualifies the applicant for the work for SIS.

What is the basic difference between SIS and Military Intelligence?

We could define SIS as a central civil intelligence and security service of the Slovak Republic. Military Intelligence is separated from SIS from institutional and functional points of view. It is a special intelligence service of the defence sector.

What is the difference between the terms agent, spy, secret agent, etc.?

The meaning of the term “agent” dramatically changed in the late thirties of the 20th century when U.S. federal police (law enforcement bodies) were established and gained power (FBI especially), for example, officer – case officer – detective – investigating officer. In FBI, “Special Agent” is usually a basic rank in their job categorisation. If “Special Agents” use and run their agents, they are called “Informers”. A similar approach is used in DEA and other American services. If an FBI officer of a special police unit is sent to a criminal environment under cover, he/she is called “Undercover”.

After media, popular literature and Hollywood started to be interested in presenting FBI activities in their movies the term “agent” was used to denote “Intelligence Officer”. American perception has spread over the world; at present, media replace and use both terms freely. However, there is not much we can do about it. The meaning can often be identified only from the context; it is sometimes difficult to identify which meaning is correct.

However, the American intelligence service CIA (as well as British services) use the term “Agent” to denote any agents (a CIA member is “an officer” or “a career staff member”).

Does SIS analyse any conspiracy theories spread in the public and, as facts could be true, does it evaluate them?

Respecting and complying with the law strictly, SIS performs security and intelligence tasks and obligations to protect economic interests of the Slovak Republic or to fight organised crime. SIS will not and cannot respond and reply to any questions about its potential intelligence targets concerning the protection of economic interests and security. Similarly, it must not reply to suggestive questions containing hypothetical statements and speculations. At the same time, SIS respects democratic principles, the freedom of speech and opinions of so-called “unnamed sources, sources that wish to remain anonymous, or so-called security experts, etc.”

Why was the Annual Report not published in the past? What do you think of security analysts’ statements that such report is useless because people can learn more from newspapers than from SIS?

SIS respects democratic principles, the freedom of speech and opinions of so-called “security analysts”. When the new SIS Director General assumed his office he openly presented his main idea to both the professionals and general public that he would like to develop a wider and more intensive communication. It means that the intelligence service should not conceal information but classify it. Such more transparent activity approach of the intelligence services results from current social requests. However, it should be understood in the context of the applicable law on the protection of classified information and in the light of intelligence work nature. You can learn more about SIS priorities, activities, assignments and results in the declassified 2011 Annual Report, the first report made available to the public since 2005, published on 23 October 2012 upon the SIS Director General’s decision. The published part of the report provides information that is not subject to strict protection of classified information and is available to a wide range of recipients. The full version was submitted to the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the only state body authorised to be acquainted with its content.

Will SIS continue to publish reports in future?

The applicable regulation assigns the SIS Director General to present the SIS Annual Report only to the National Council, which is the only legal recipient. The decision of the current SIS Director General to publish the SIS 2011 Annual Report within the legal limits and maintaining the protection of classified information resulted from the request for a more transparent perception of the security sector. It also corresponds to the needs for increased information exchange between security authorities and the public.

Why are there two press secretaries at SIS?

The number of questions asked by journalists and the public has been increasing. When the new SIS Director General assumed his office he declared the optimum situation is when the intelligence service does not conceal information but rather classifies it while it also increases the transparency of the country’s security sector and facilitates communication between the security authorities and the public in compliance with applicable law and the law on the protection of the classified information. Unlike other security forces, SIS does not have any regional structures that communicate with journalists or the general public despite the fact that it is a country-wide state authority. These activities are arranged centrally by the SIS press secretaries based in Bratislava. Unfortunately, due to cost-cutting measures, SIS cannot afford a press or media team or department like our partner intelligence services. Appointment of the press secretaries is the most cost-efficient solution. On the top of communication with media and the public the SIS press secretaries perform other tasks and duties, i.e. they analyse information from open sources and provide assistance in meeting public requests for information.