N Macedonia: 6 ex-officials get prison terms for wiretaps

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — A former interior minister, an ex-intelligence chief, and four other officials from North Macedonia were sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison Friday over an unauthorized wiretapping operation.

The surveillance scandal, which broke in 2016, helped topple the small Balkan country’s conservative government after it emerged that some 20,000 people, including opposition politicians, judges, and journalists, were targeted.

During a three-year trial, prosecutors identified former intelligence service chief Sasho Mijalkov as the lead organizer of the wiretapping program. Mijalkov received a 12-year prison sentence, and former Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska was sentenced to four years.

Mijalkov is a first cousin of former North Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who fled to Hungary in 2018 to avoid serving a two-year jail sentence for involvement in a corruption scandal.

Also convicted Friday were two other former senior Interior Ministry officials, who fled the country in 2018 and were sentenced in absentia to 15 years each.

Two former police officials were sentenced to three and six years, while six other defendants were handed two-year suspended sentences.

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