Macedonia Opposition Leader Charged With Spying

Macedonia opposition leader, Zoran Zaev : Photo by: SDSM

The leader of Macedonia's main opposition Social Democratic Party, SDSM, has been ordered to remain in the country and his passport has been confiscated.

In a dramatic address carried on all main TV stations, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Saturday accused Zoran Zaev of attempting a coup.

Charges filed against him include "espionage and violence against top state officials".

Three other suspects, including the former secret police chief, Zoran Verusevski, who was arrested a week ago, have been placed in custody, the police said.

In the past few months, Zaev has repeatedly threatened to reveal a so-called political "bomb", which would shame Gruevski and force his government to resign. 

While the opposition kept silent about the details, there were numerous items of speculation.

In the Prime Minister's TV address, he said that Zaev had threatened to publish compromising data from conversations involving top state officials unless he agreed to the immediate formation of a caretaker government that would include the SDSM.

"I do not accept threats and blackmails and these kinds of set-ups. They will not pass," Gruevski said.

According to Gruevski, Zaev met him four times in late 2014 to discuss the matter, during which Zaev told him he had acquired the compromising material "from a foreign intelligence service".

After listening to Zaev, Gruevski said he concluded that "some of it was true, some was partly true and some was not true. But the fact that some of it was true speaks of the fact that he acquired those materials illegally and against the constitution".

Gruevski promised a "pubic and transparent court procedure" and said he was willing to disclose further details about the case.

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