Bulgarian prosecutors: ‘Operation Worms’ did not eavesdrop on protesters

Written by on February 10, 2015 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgarian prosecutors: ‘Operation Worms’ did not eavesdrop on protesters

The controversial “Operation Worms” was not directed against the anti-government protesters of 2013/14 but against Interior Ministry officials giving unauthorised access to classified information, according to a statement by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office on February 10.

The statement by prosecutors came five days after the head of Parliament’s committee on internal security, General Atanas Atanassov, alleged in a television interview that there had been a large-scale surveillance operation against participants in the protests that sought the resignation of the now-departed Bulgarian Socialist Party government.

According to Atanassov, the operation involved the State Agency for National Security, the Interior Ministry and the department in charge of the technical means of covert surveillance.

Subsequent media reports said that this operation had been called “Worms”. The allegations prompted a political storm, along with denials by the Interior Ministry that protesters had been the subject of surveillance.

On February 9, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, head of a centre-right coalition cabinet in power since the former ruling axis was routed in early elections in October 2014, told reporters that the operation had not involved surveillance of the anti-government protesters.

The Prosecutor’s Office said that on November 13 2014, an investigation had been ordered by Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov of three departments in connection with whether they had been complying with the law governing surveillance.

The departments into which the investigation was ordered were the security, information and archives and inspectorate departments.

The results of the investigation were set out in a report submitted to the Prosecutor-General, who on January 26 2015 sent a full copy of the report – including its recommendations – to the Interior Minister, Vesselin Vuchkov.

The investigation found evidence of crimes related to illegal imposition and use of special surveillance. The offences were committed by officials, and the case was now being investigated by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office.

The total period of the surveillance was 300 days, more than the law allowed.

In no case was the surveillance of people who had participated in the anti-government protests, according to the statement.

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