Albanian PM Vows to Sue over Leaked Tapes ‘Blackmail’

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed on Monday that he is being blackmailed by the publication of prosecution-intercepted conversations that are alleged to highlight widespread violations by scores of Socialist Party officials during local elections in the Dibra municipality in 2016.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Rama said he will sue Peter Tiede, a German journalist who published the leaked conversations in the German newspaper Bild.

"I decided to sue this journalist in German courts and in that blessed country," Rama said in one Twitter post, hours after new 16 intercepted phone calls were published by Bild in German and English, and the audio was posted on Tiede's Facebook page in Albanian.

Several of the intercepted conversations involve Socialist Party MPs, a minister and several public administration officials, along with a local businessman, and appear to demonstrate that there was a wide-ranging campaign of vote-buying and voter intimidation.

The intercepted calls include a school director threatening he will fire teachers who do not show enthusiastic support for the Socialist Party and a police officer acknowledging he misused his position to block buses full of opposition supporters from reaching polling stations.

In one of the conversations, Prime Minister Rama is heard asking a Socialist Party official called Arben Keshi for an update on the ongoing local elections.

Keshi, whose name appears in most of the conversations allegedly discussing vote-buying, informs Rama that he believes everything is going as planned.

According to Bild, Keshi was a police officer at the centre of the Socialist Party's illegal operation in Dibra.

Rama confirmed that the conversation between...

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