Czechs aided Clinton probe, paper claims

January 09, 1994|By David Rocks | David Rocks,Contributing Writer

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- During the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, the former Czechoslovak secret service assisted President George Bush by investigating Bill Clinton's activities in the East European nation, a Prague newspaper reported yesterday.

In the autumn of 1992, members of the Czechoslovak Federal Security Information Service (known by the Czech initials FBIS) provided information on Mr. Clinton's contacts during a visit to Prague in 1970, when he was a student, the Mlada Fronta Dnes said.

The report, which came just three days before President Clinton is scheduled to meet with East European leaders here, quotes former FBIS deputy chief Jaroslav Basta as saying the agency looked for any information about Mr. Clinton's visit that might have discredited the candidate in the eyes of U.S. voters.

The newspaper cites other unnamed sources from FBIS who said that whatever information was uncovered was to be leaked to the Czech press or else given to Bush staff members visiting Prague.

Czech officials denied any knowledge of the service's anti-Clinton activities, and the U.S. Embassy here said that it had no knowledge of cooperation between the Bush campaign and FBIS.

While studying at Oxford University in Britain in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Clinton visited Moscow and Prague. During his six-day stay here, he lived with the family of Jan Kopold, another Oxford student.

The trip became a campaign issue in 1992 when Republicans implied that the Democratic nominee might have had some contact with the KGB in Moscow. Few details about the Czech trip were made public.

What is clear is that Mr. Kopold's family had Communist connections. Mr. Kopold's grandmother was a founder of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, although she was purged from its ranks in the 1960s, and Mr. Kopold's grandfather was killed in World War II while fighting with the Communist resistance.

Mr. Clinton had considered seeing the Kopold family during his visit to Prague this week, but the idea was dropped after the extent of the family's Communist connections became clear, U.S. Embassy sources say.

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