EC with 'No Comment' on Bulgaria's 'Watergate' Scandal

Bulgaria in EU | April 16, 2013, Tuesday // 14:56|  views

The European Commission's Spokesperson Mark Gray refuses to make comments on illegal "spying" in Bulgaria until the conclusion of the probe. Photo by EPA/BGNES

All questions regarding the use of special surveillance devices in Bulgaria must be addressed to the Chief Prosecutor, according to the European Commission's Spokesperson Mark Gray.

Speaking Tuesday in connection with the latest illegal wiretapping scandal in the country, already known as the "Bulgarian Watergate," Gray stated he would steer away from speculations until all facts are established.

He added he would not make assumptions while the probe was ongoing, stressing Brussels has not received any documents, just verbal information from Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov.

Gray pointed out EC has voiced its alarm, remarks and recommendations in the annual report on the country's Home Affairs and Justice System under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, CVR.

On Monday, the prosecuting authority reported it has uncovered a series of violations at Bulgaria's Interior Ministry concerning unregulated wiretapping.

A team of ten prosecutors started an inspection of the procedures for applying special surveillance devices on March 29.

The main conclusion of the probe is that the Interior Ministry created possibilities for illegal wiretapping, reports.

Speaking Monday at a press conference, the Chief Prosecutor made clear that the probe had revealed numerous violations related to the deployment of surveillance equipment and the oversight of such operations.

Tsatsarov informed that the inspection had detected malfeasance in office and abuse of wiretapping equipment.

He said that pre-trial proceedings had been opened against three directors at the Specialized Directorate Technical Operations of the Interior Ministry and one employee of the unit.

Tsatsarov also explained that important information related to the case had been deleted in a bid to sabotage the probe, adding that the prosecutors would try to recover the lost data.

On March 28, Sergey Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), submitted a tip-off to Tsatsarov about illegal wiretapping of politicians, businessmen and magistrates which had taken place during Tsvetan Tsvetanov's term in office as Interior Minister.

On the following day, a team of prosecutors headed by Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov and his Deputy Roman Vasilev was tasked with the probe at the Interior Ministry.

Tsvetanov continues to deny any involvement in the illegal spying amidst calls from the opposition to step down and leave politics for good.

The head of the special surveillance unit of Bulgaria's police, together with a director from the unit, were temporarily released from duty until the end of investigations against them. 

At a briefing Tuesday, Tsatsarov indirectly admitted the "spying" vehicles have been purchased and used after 2009 when the centrist GERB party took office.

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Tags: European Commission, spokesperson, Mark Gray, probe, Sotir Tsatsarov, Chief Prosecutor, interior ministry, wiretapping, Sergey Stanishev, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Nikolay Kokinov, Roman Vassilev, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, GERB


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