Macedonian opposition claims government snooped on media too

AP News
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 2:44 PM

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia's leftwing opposition leader claimed Wednesday that more than 100 journalists were among the victims of alleged mass wire-tapping by the country's government and secret police chief.

Zoran Zaev published what he said were excerpts of taped conversations by journalists in both state-run and independent outlets, which he said prove government attempts to control Macedonia's media.

Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski rejected the allegations, which come amid a bitter feud with the opposition.

Gruevski had previously accused Zaev of plotting a coup. Zaev, who faces criminal charges and is barred from leaving the country, claims the government tapped about 20,000 people, including politicians, members of the judiciary and police, religious leaders and non-government organizations.

Zaev's party is boycotting parliament, accusing Gruevski's government of fraud in April 2014 national elections.

Gruevski claims the wire-tapping was ordered by an unidentified "foreign service" in collaboration with the country's former intelligence chief, who is in custody with five intelligence service officials charged by police with espionage.

A Skopje court said one of the five officials was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for espionage and illegal wire-tapping, after the suspect reached an agreement with prosecutors.

No further details were released.