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.

Wiretapping is being carried out legally with court orders, say the MOI

Skopje, 22 October, 2017 - 16:11 (META) 

The monitoring of communications in the Ministry of Interior is carried out in accordance with the legal procedures – with a court order through the Public Prosecutor’s Office, said the Ministry of Interior to “Nova TV” regarding the accusations made by the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, during an interview on ” Alpha” television that hundreds of members of the leadership of the party were being wiretapped by the Ministry of Interior.

The ministry added that UBK has focused its work on left and right extremism and radicalism, and terrorism is a special global phenomenon and does not need a special explanation.

They remind that there are two committees in Parliament whose function is to supervise the work of the UBK and the Intelligence Agency (AR) and the application of special investigative measures (PIM).

“These commissions are welcome at any moment to supervise and control the application of these measures”, said the Ministry of Interior.

Spasovski: The new regulation for monitoring communications will be over by New Year

Skopje, 21 October, 2017 - 16:36 (META) 

The termination of article 175 of the Law for electronic communications on part of the Constitutional Court in this moment will lead to a vacuum situation where the possibility of any kind of legal monitoring of communications will be denied, a kind of monitoring that would be within the framework of protection of Macedonia’s constitutional order and fight against organized crime and corruption, said the Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski in an interview he gave at “Alsat – M” TV.

Spasovski said that this is the first reason, and the second is that the authorized services are deeply into the preparation of a new legal solution within the framework of the system for monitoring of communications that, according to him, will be done by the end of this year.

-We began a national project that we called “Interligentia”. All sorts of analyses were made and four models of reforms were made. We chose one of those models and the legal content is being prepared and in this moment an intersection working group is being formed – said the Minister of Interior.

When asked how the citizens will be convinced that there will not be a misuse with the wiretapping now, Spasovski answered that MoI is implementing a serious control that will prevent any kind of misuse of the system for monitoring of communications.

-These days in Macedonia there is no illegal wiretapping on part of MoI. With the new system, the possibility of misuse will be brought to a minimal level – said Spasovski.

The government says there will be no illegal wiretapping during the current mandate

Skopje, 12 October, 2017 - 15:09 (META) 

The Government is proposing and is not instructing the Constitutional Court to stop the procedure for assessing the constitutionality of Article 175 of the Law on Electronic Communications, which enables the Administration for Security and Counter-Intelligence (UBK) to wiretap directly through telecommunications operators, explains government spokesman , Mile Bosnjakovski.

According to him, such a proposal to the Constitutional Court is because a systematic solution to the problems of monitoring communications is already being worked out, ie draft laws that will cover the issues are already being prepared.

“Of course, the Constitutional Court, does not have to obey the Government’s opinion”, he said.

When asked by reporters why the Government are leaving room for UBK to illegally wiretap, he said that illegal wiretapping is not in the current government’s mandate, and if anybody dares to abuse the management capacities, they will bear the responsibility .

According to the government information service, domestic and international experts are working on new legal solutions, and the civil society and other experts, as well as citizens, will be involved in the debate on the proposed changes.

“The procedure will be conducted with extreme transparency, and new proposals for legal solutions will soon be presented to the public”, said Bosnjakovski.

The Government will ask that the constitutionality of wiretapping Article 175 not be assessed

Skopje, 11 October, 2017 - 19:22 (META) 

At its 31st session, the Government submitted a proposal for the Constitutional Court to adopt a decision to stop the procedure for assessing the constitutionality of Article 175, the Law on Electronic Telecommunications, adopted on 21st June, 2017.

“According to this opinion adopted by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, the Law on the Interception of Communications may be subject to evaluation in relation to its constitutionality, but not Article 175 from the Law separately”, reads the Government’s statement.

Article 175 allows the Administration for Security and Counter-Intelligence (UBK) to wiretap directly through telecommunications operators.

In June, the Constitutional Court decided to initiate a procedure for determining the constitutionality of this article, after the majority of judges at the session expressed suspected that as the Law was regulated, through Articles 168 and the contested 175, the secret police (UBK) and the Ministry of the Interior are allowed arbitrary uncontrolled monitoring of communications through telecommunications operators.

Otherwise, repealing or amending Article 175 of the Law on Electronic Communications is one of the recommendations in the reports of German expert, Reinhard Priebe, the one from 2015 and the last report from this year.