Bulgarian intelligence service found to have wiretapped “all national media”



By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In 2008, the Bulgarian government announced the establishment of the State Agency for National Security (DANS). The Agency, which began work with the blessings of the US government, was said to be the Bulgarian version of America’s FBI, combining counterespionage and criminal intelligence operations. However, it appears that DANS has been distracted from its initial mission. Early last September, the Agency verified that investigative journalist Ognyan Stefanov was behind Opasnite Novini (Dangerous News) an anonymous blog specializing in investigative reports on Bulgaria’s government establishment. The blog had apparently attracted the attention of DANS after publishing a shocking exposé implicating DANS officials in illicit trafficking activities. On September 22, Stefanov was hospitalized in critical condition after being severely beaten by persons unknown, who used hammers and iron bars to thrash the journalist. He eventually survived. Since then, however, a Bulgarian parliamentary committee set up to investigate the attempted assassination of Stefanov, has uncovered that, in addition to targeting Opasnite Novini, DANS routinely wiretapped phones belonging to “journalists of almost all national media”. Moreover, the Agency later admitted tapping the personal communications of several members of the Bulgarian Parliament. DANS eventually admitted that the wiretaps were installed under Operation GALLERY (a.k.a. Operation GALERIA), a project aimed to discover the sources of government leaks. Further revelations show that, since its establishment, DANS has been granted “dozens of requests […] for telephone surveillance” per day “on the basis of verbal and not written requests, as the law requires”. Now DANS Director Petko Sertov has announced that internal Agency records pertaining to Operation GALLERY are to be declassified, after being filtered by “a working group [that will] decide what information would be made available”. Nevertheless, Sertov’s announcement has failed to pacify uneasy Bulgarian journalists, who claim

DANS is increasingly acting “as a political secret police”.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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