US Ambassador: Wiretap Scandal Demoralizes Bulgarian Society

Diplomacy | February 14, 2011, Monday // 11:38|  views

James Warlick, US Ambassador in Bulgaria. File photo

The leaked conversations of high officials with potentially discrediting contents have an extremely negative effect on the Bulgarian society, James Warlick, US Ambassador in the country, stated.

People are becoming cynical and apathetic, according to him.

It is therefore vital that the recordings' authenticity be tested and verified as soon as possible, in order for those who are responsible for the leak to be found and punished, according to Warlick who spoke on Monday before the Bulgarian National Television.

The US Ambassador referred to the recent Bulgarian "Tanovgate" – or "Tapegate"- scandal, which began with the leak of three tapes with discrediting conversations between the Director of the Customs Agency, Vanyo Tanov, and his superiors – Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, and Deputy Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, suggesting the Bulgarian Customs Agency was under political pressure.

The first tapes were released at a news conference held by the Galeria weekly, a paper believed to be the mouthpiece of Aleksei Petrov, former special agent of the State Agency for National Security DANS, (currently under own recognizence), who has been investigated on organized crime charges since his detention in the much advertised "Operation Octopus" in February 2010.

As the scandal gained momentum, Galeria released a tape of a conversation between Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov and the Customs Director, alleging Borisov provided a cover-up for the owner of the "Ledenika" beer company, Mihail Mihov.

The latest "Tanovgate" chapter included a recording in which Borisov instructs Tanov to make sure Customs agent, Nikolay Vuchev, a friend with whom he often plays football, is brought back to work at terminal 2 at Sofia airport.

The offices of Galeria were destroyed by a blast on Wednesday. The perpetrator is yet unknown.

On Monday, Ambassador Warlick stated the scandal provides also an opportunity for the Bulgarian government to show that it can cope with the control over special surveillance devices. He was certain that Brussels and Washington follow the case carefully.

The notorious recordings were made with special surveillance devices, per the conclusion of experts from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS)

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Tags: James Warlick, ambassador, wiretap, Vanyo Tanov, Boyko Borisov, recordings


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