Sofia Rally: Bulgaria Ex Interior Min 'Out of Politics, In Jail'
Hundreds of Bulgarians took to the streets of Sofia on Sunday to protest against breaches in the use of special surveillance devices and mass illegal police wiretapping.
The protesters called for the resignation of Tsvetan Tsvetanov, former Interior Minister in the Cabinet of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB.
They say the scandal has shown how the police see Bulgarian citizens as their main enemy.
Tsvetanov had declared earlier he would quit politics if evidence would turn out that he was involved in the mass eavesdropping of politicians, business people, and journalists.
Chanting “Wake up, Bulgaria”, the protesters carried banners, reading “No to state police”, “Mafia Out”, “We have will to spy on you”, a sarcastic paraphrase of the formerly ruling party pre-election slogan “We have will [to rule again]”.
“Bulgarians have been robbed of one of their rights – Internet access. We can not freely surf online because we know that someone, somebody may be following our steps illegally,” a protestor said.
“The people who are responsible for this crime do not want to be held responsible and refuse to exit politics as they promised to,” he added.
On March 28, Sergey Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), submitted a tipoff to Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, about illegal wiretapping of politicians, businessmen and magistrates which had taken place during Tsvetanov's term in office.
Last Monday, in reporting the results from the probe, Tsatsarov stated that two thirds of Stanishev's information has been confirmed.
He said pre-trial proceedings had been opened against three directors at the Specialized Directorate Technical Operations of the Interior Ministry and one employee of the unit.
Tsatsarov also explained that important information related to the case had been deleted in a bid to sabotage the probe, adding the prosecutors would try to recover the lost data.
The head of the special surveillance unit of Bulgaria's police, together with a director from the unit, were temporarily released from duty until the end of investigations against them.
The Chief Prosecutor assured the probe was continuing and Tsvetanov's work and involvement will also be probed.
The Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary, Kalin Georgiev, in two interviews, rejected claims the technology allowed voice recording. He was summoned for interrogation by the Prosecutor's Office over discrepancies between his account before the investigators and his statements for the media.
Illegal police spying has been listed as one of the serious problems in Bulgaria in the US Department of State's latest report on the country's human rights practices.
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