A day after prosecutors said that they had enough evidence to charge former interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov with crimes in connection with alleged illegal wiretapping, but could not do so because he had immunity as a parliamentary election candidate, Tsvetanov said he would give up his immunity – after the elections.
Tsvetanov, election campaign chief for Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, continued to insist on his innocence.
Political rivals, notably the Bulgarian Socialist Party, continued to insist that he keep to his promise to withdraw from politics should it be shown that there was illegal wiretapping while he was interior minister.
On April 30, the Sofia City Prosecution office said that it had found sufficient evidence that, in his official capacity while interior minister, Tsvetanov had committed a criminal offence by knowingly allowing his subordinates at the ministry to engage in unlawful surveillance. There also was evidence of Tsvetanov having abused his authority of official status. However, because Tsvetanov is a registered candidate for Parliament in the May 12 2013 elections, prosecution cannot proceed, the Sofia City Prosecution said.
Speaking to journalists while on the campaign trail on May 1, Tsvetanov said that he would not give up his immunity now because people found everything that was happening to him during the election campaign rather suspicious.
He was ready to give up his immunity after the elections were over, he said.
“Let’s see what evidence has been collected, because there was just one media statement yesterday and two hours earlier Prosecutor General (Sotir) Tsatsarov held a news conference and did not say anything about it.”
Tsvetanov said that as interior minister, he had been guided by the law.
He said that he had signed requests for eavesdropping only after a formal request from a prosecutor or an operative service and with permission from a judge.
“I have never ordered illegal special surveillance “because this is impossible in the conditions the systems operates in and given the parliamentary control which was introduced by the 41st National Assembly at the request of GERB,” he said.
Asked to comment on the prosecutor’s statement following the interrogation of two officials from the eavesdropping unit producing evidence that Tsvetanov had broken the law, he said: “I do not know what they said. I know what I did as interior minister. The control I exercised and the work with my colleagues was available to the directors of the services.”
(Photo: Council of the EU)