Government to determine who is responsible for the two-year wiretapping of the PPO

Skopje, 30 November, 2018 - 16:02 (META) 

The government has strongly condemned the case regarding the recorded telephone conversations in the Public Prosecutor’s Office. We believe that such phenomena are a relapse of the past and the practice of past ruling non-democratic structures, government spokesman Mile Bosnjakovski said, reacting to today’s information from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, that in the building where the main prosecutor’s office and other prosecutor’s offices are located, wire-tapping equipment was found which was used at the end of September 2016 until yesterday.

“The government expects that the institutions will devote maximum capacities in the investigation, that they will get to the bottom of the matter and that the public will be immediately and fully informed. What we can say at the moment is that the Ministry of Interior is fully involved in the pre-trial procedure. Accountability must be identified, determined and the whole case should have an effective court procedure,” said Bosnjakovski.

Most of OTA budget to be spent on salaries and allowances

Skopje, 2 November, 2018 - 12:41 (META) 

From the beginning of the month, the Operational-Technical Agency (OTA), which will function as an independent state body, will oversee the monitoring of communications by the competent state bodies, i.e. it will provide technical link between operators and the authorized bodies, without the possibility of activating or conducting the recording of the communications received.

With the budget re-balance, which is currently undergoing the parliamentary procedure for the new agency, 3.26 million denars (about 53.000 euros) have been allocated.

From this amount, 2.2 million denars (35.700 EUR) are foreseen for salaries and allowances, while the remaining amount of approximately one million denars (EUR 17.000) has been allocated for the procurement of goods and services, ie for travel and daily expenses, communal services, heating , communication and transportation, materials and small inventory, repairs and ongoing maintenance, contractual services and other current expenditures.

The formation of the OTA is still a financial enigma

Skopje, 7 September, 2018 - 21:40 (META) 

In regards to the question of how much will it cost for the establishment of the Operational-Technical Agency (OTA), the new body that will manage the wiretapping equipment in the country, the relevant institutions have kicked the ball into another court.

Today, Parliament voted for Zoran Angelovski as director of the OTA, but it seems that nobody knows how much money from the budget has been allocated for the implementation of the new Law on the OTA or whether they’re still calculating.

Instead of detailed data on the fiscal implications of the law, it is said that the financial resources needed to implement the Law on Operational and Technical Agency will be allocated from the budget.

The Ministry of Finance was asked, who is responsible for the state budget, how much money in the budget was provided for the establishment of the OTA. They sent a response to the Ministry of the Interior.

The Ministry of Interior, however, advised that a response be requested from Parliament, and referred the issue to the competent Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security. They did not answer the question sent to the official email address.

The OTA should start operating from November, and the establishment of this agency was one of the key recommendations by Priebe’s expert group, which required the prevention of wiretapping.

Ristovska: Mijalkov orchestrator of wiretapping, we have evidence and witnesses

Skopje, 1 September, 2018 - 11:46 (META) 

Sasho Mijalkov, former director of the Administration for Security and Counter-Intelligence (UBK) of the Ministry of Interior, is  creator of the idea of massive wiretapping, driven by political and business interests. In order to prove his guilt the SPO has provided  a substantial amount of evidence, but also witnesses who helped in the disclosure of the affair and the highlighting of the motives, said special prosecutor Lence Ristovska at today’s hearing in the “Target-Tvrdina” case.

“We will prove that Sasho Mijalkov, Goran Grujevski and Nadica Nikolic, led by a desire for total control regarding the flow of information, and so to gain an advantage in the political and business area’s, they formed a criminal association that through continuous abuse of the systems for monitoring the communications, UBK, they carried out massive campaign of illegal wiretapping”, Ristovska said.

According to the prosecutor, the accused included Vladimir Varelov, Vasil Isakovski, Marijan Shumulkovski and the witnesses, Marijan Jankulovski and Zvonko Kostovski, they were under the direct control of Mijalkov, who took part in the tapping  himself, said Ristovska.

“The defendant Mijalkov, as director of the UBK was organizer of the association, he kept all participants under his control and supervision, and at the same time, he, himself illegally monitored the communications of some of the citizens, and he also had an overview of all the telephone numbers which were being monitored. Gruevski as his closest associate forwarded Mijalkov’s requests and plans to Nikolic, who distributed tasks to other participants. She also ordered tasks by which certain telephone users would be targeted and transcribed”, explained the special prosecutor.

The request by the accused Sasho Mijalkov and Valentina Simonovska not to be tried for the offense they were charged with, was turned down. It was requested by the defendant’s lawyers who called on the amnesty that the president of the state, Gjorge Ivanov signed in 2015 for about 50 people, then under the scrutiny of the SPO in connection with the affair.

Judge Dzaneta Begovic, however, explained that the request was rejected because during the assessment of the indictment the decision had already been made, i.e. the defendants did not receive amnesty.

Supreme Court in Athens rules against extradition of Grujevski and Boskovski

Athens, 18 May, 2018 - 19:21 (META) 

Goran Grujevski and Nikola Boskovski will not be extradited to Macedonia to be tried for decades of illegal wiretapping.

The Supreme Court in Athens ruled that the two should not be handed over to the country because there are no conditions for a fair trial.

Earlier, the Thessaloniki court came to a different decision than the Supreme Court in Athens. The court there ruled that they should be extradited to Macedonia, a procedure that has lasted for months due to the lack of official translation into Macedonian.

However, according to Greek law, the Greek Minister of Justice has the last word on the extradition of Grujevski and Boskovski, who can make the personal decision whether the two will be extradited from Greece.

Otherwise, two more proceedings are being conducted before Greek authorities. One is for the false Bulgarian passports which the two wanted to use to flee to Budapest from Thessaloniki airport with false identities. The other procedure is for the application of political asylum, which they have filed in fear that they will not receive a fair trial in Macedonia.

Privacy International: The oversight of secret global intelligence networks is insufficient

Skopje, 25 April, 2018 - 17:53 (META) 

“Privacy International”, an international network of 40 non-governmental organizations,  in its new report has identified alarming weaknesses  in the oversight arrangements that are supposed to govern the sharing of intelligence between state intelligence agencies.

The investigation carried out by organizations, translated into the report “Secret Global Surveillance Networks: Intelligence Sharing between Governments and the Need for Safeguards” suggests safeguards designed in the era of phone wiretapping cannot be used in the era of mass surveillance, where governments are increasingly collecting enormous amounts of digital information on many people, including people of no interest to the intelligence agencies.

According to the report, most countries in the world lack domestic legislation that would regulate the sharing of intelligence. In other countries, it is a matter of insufficiently clearly defined legal obligations.

All this is a huge threat to human rights, says the report.

Proprietary switches will not be in telecommunication operators because they are foreign companies

Skopje, 27 December, 2017 - 18:13 (META) 

The Law on the Establishment of the New Operational-Technical Agency (OTA) and the new Law on the Interception of Communications, which were established at a government session yesterday, are expected to enter the parliamentary procedure for their adoption by the New Year holidays, said the Ministry of Interior.

The opposition also participated in the working groups for drafting the legal solutions, said the briefings by the MOI, and the draft texts were submitted to all parliamentary groups – from the majority and the opposition in Parliament, where there were no remarks or objections on the draft laws.

OTA will be the new institution that will be a mediator between the operators and the services responsible for interception of communications (UBK, Public Security Bureau, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Customs Administration, Financial Police and the Ministry of Defense, military intelligence and other intelligence agencies). At OTA, mediation devices will be transferred to mirror the signal from the telecommunication operators who until now, were in UBK. It will activate the signal and allow the authorities responsible for the interception of communications to access the data from the operators’ communications and information systems, but they will not be able to listen to the conversation being monitored.

The solution of the mediation devices, or what are known as ‘proprietary switches’ will be in a separate agency, and not in the telecommunication operators, which was in Priebe’s proposal, as the MOI explained, was chosen because the operators in the country are with foreign capital and should avoid the danger of data flowing on the other side. This was also explained to experts from the European Union.

Parliament will select the Director of the Agency for Monitoring Communications (OTA)

Skopje, 26 November, 2017 - 16:35 (META) 

The new Operational-Technical Agency (OTA) where the monitoring of communications will be monitored, is going to be managed by a director who Parliament will elect and can dismiss, reads the draft law on the new agency which is due to be put before MPs.

The director, as specified in the law, will be selected through a public advertisement.

The director’s mandate will last for five years, without the right to re-election.

According to article eight of the law, “the function of the director is to be carried out professionally and is incompatible with the performance of another public function or a political party function”.

The director will submit to Parliament an annual report on the work of the OTA for the previous calendar year by the end of March of the current year, and will be obliged, at the request of Parliament, to submit additional reports.

Zaev: Secret surveillance will be under complete control of the Public Prosecution

Skopje, 25 November, 2017 - 20:16 (META) 

Secret surveillance will be done directly under the control of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, far from politicians’ hands, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to reporters after signing the first resolutions to support young farmers at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy.

Zaev stressed that the reforms in the security services are at a very advanced stage, and that the model, after all the debates between the ministry and Government, has already been submitted to Parliament.

“The Ministry of Interior (MVR) will need a court order to become part of the system for combating terrorism, extremism, radicalism – that is what protection of the state means. Everything related to corruption, crime, possibilities for suspicion, is absolutely under the strict control by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. That is the model. Customs, the Intelligence Agencies and other institutions that need such assistance can join it”, stated Zaev.

He underlined that the ultimate goal, is to never let the secret service be abused the way it was, especially secret surveillance, that is, wiretapping.

“Therefore, in the future, it is most important for citizens to know that no one will ever be wiretapped or their their human rights and freedom of communication violated, said Zaev.

A working group has been formed for the reforms for the monitoring of communications

Skopje, 1 November, 2017 - 7:36 (META) 

At today’s 34th session, the Government adopted a decision to establish a working group to monitor the implementation of the plan for the realization of the recommendations from a group of senior experts on systemic rule-of-law issues, related to monitoring communications, from 2015, stated the Government’s press service.

Siljan Avramovski, a representative from the Ministry of Interior, has been appointed chairman of the working group which will consist of 29 members, including representatives from the ministries, Parliament, the judiciary, the Ombudsman, as well as more representatives from the scientific and academic branch.

Avramovski was the Minister of Interior in Vlado Buckovski’s government, as well as the director of UBK during the same government.