Macedonia's SJO Says Secret Police Ran Illegal Wiretapping

Macedonia's Special Prosecution, SJO, said it suspected ten persons from the Security and Counterintelligence Directorate, UBK, illegally surveyed at least 5,827 telephone numbers from 2008 to 2015 - as part of a fresh investigation codenamed "Target," launched on Friday.

The ten suspects, all former or current employees of the secret police, face charges of misuse of office and breaching people's basic civil rights.

"There is a reasonable suspicion that the suspects, using their offices and powers, at the expense of state funds, through misuse of the communication surveillance equipment, seriously breached the basic human rights of the unlawfully wiretapped citizens," Deputy Special Prosecutor Fatime Fetai told a press conference in Skopje.

Although no names were given, the agency was led at the time by Saso Mijalkov, the cousin of Nikola Gruevski, former Prime Minister and head of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

At least 5,827 telephone numbers were unlawfully wiretapped from 2008 to 2015 the SJO said.

The SJO said that, from the evidence gathered so far, at least 4,286 telephone numbers were wiretapped by the suspects without obtaining a court order as the law stipulates.

An additional 1,541 telephone numbers were tapped on court orders for a certain period - but the SJO said they had also been illegally followed before and after the court orders were issued and expired.

The SJO noted that these are only the telephone numbers for which they have obtained evidence that they were illegally followed, not excluding the possibility that more will come to light.

The fresh investigation attempts to provide some answers to one of the most pressing questions at the heart of the Macedonia's prolonged...

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