Judge Vladimira Yaneva granted use of Special Surveillance Devices (SSD) on foreign embassies, it emerged from conversations between her and judge Rumyana Chenalova, described by people in power as “two chicks are chatting”.
In the new recording “chick” Yaneva explains to “chick” Chenalova what happened after learning of her imminent “finishing”:
Yaneva: I am running on Friday to Itso Dimov (most likely Hristo Dinev – Chair of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office – editor’s note). And I tell him: “Itso-o-o, the file is with you. Tell me what the situation is? Itso Dimov says: “Vladi (from Vladimira – editor’s note), there is no such information and we are not working in this direction. Only, please give us the information we want. Cuz there was a dispute as they wanted the register for six months, and I told them: “Request the register only for the SSD that interest you, why are you asking for the entire register? And I say: “I am nervous to give it to you, because there are things in it about embassies, about this and that, and so on, such information…”
“Yes, yes, yes,” agrees “chick” Chenalova to whom the information that there is data in the register that SSD have been used on embassies is obviously nothing new.
This is no longer some “beauty parlor” chat
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as Prime Minister Boyko Borisov labeled the conversations, obviously following the talking points of the Head of the Supreme Administrative Court Georgi Kolev. Yaneva, the “family friend” of former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov was appointed Head of the most important court in the country, namely under Borisov’s and Kolev’s watch, despite her lack of qualifications, dubious property acquisitions (investigated by Bivol) and suspicions of conflict of interest.
As early as 2009, the then-US Ambassador in Sofia, her Excellency Nancy E. McEldowney has sent a classified diplomatic cable to Washington, titled “How do you make them reform when they don’t want to?” The cable notes that this how a representative of the European Commission, who told the Embassy that the Commission feels they have “tried everything” to make the Bulgarians reform their judicial system, had summed up the situation.
Two years later, the reluctance of the judicial system to reform itself was embodied by the stubborn refusal of the SJC to investigate the controversial appointment of judge Vladimira Yaneva as Head of the SCC. Bivol published a series of articles on the serious problems with political interference and pressure on the judiciary and specifically on the unacceptable “staffing” policy of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgarian party (GERB) in the judicial system since the beginning of 2011.
“Chick” Yaneva spend several years as Head of the most important court in the country and according to official statistics has given the green light to more than 15,000 requests from the special services for SSD use. However, those who are directly responsible for her appointment and are mentioned in the recordings are now trying to downplay her role to “a woman said”. But this woman has managed and knows well
The register of secret wiretaps
Any requested SSD is entered in a special court register. This is a classified document, stored and controlled under the Protection of Classified Information Act (PCIA).
“A register of authorized, applied and terminated SSD is maintained under the Regulation for applying PCIA. The persons who can access the register are the employees for security of information and they are designated by an order of the Chair of the Sofia City Court (SCC). The control over the maintenance and the keeping of this register is done by the National Bureau for Control of SSD,” was the answer of the SCC press office to an inquiry from Bivol.
The recording suggests that by saying that embassies have been taped Yaneva has disclosed to Chenalova classified information.
In addition, the mere fact that the SSD register contains data of use of such devices against embassies in the last six months is scandalous enough. A diplomatic source, wishing to remain anonymous, told Bivol that “Yaneva must be crazy to sign under such requests”.
Yesterday, (Wednesday, November 19), Yaneva was heard by the Ethics Commission of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), but behind closed doors. According to her lawyer, she did not remember the conversations, but they were manipulated. The Commission did not ask her whether she had spoken to Prime Minister Borisov, but if she had a dog (a dog can be heard in the recordings as well – editor’s note).
At the same time when Yaneva’s hearing was taking place in SJC, Chenalova was summoned by the State Agency for National Security (DANS) to have a new legal charge pressed against her. She confirmed before reporters that she had heard the “facts” from the conversations.
After the meeting of the SJC Ethics Commission, its Deputy Chair Daniela Kostova rebuked Bivol for being “unethical” and “dishonest” for publishing portions of the recordings and for not providing all of them to the SJC. It is not clear who will bear responsibility if all recordings are to be published at once without being checked and information in them confirmed, something that our media is doing very meticulously.
Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov said Tuesday that the SJC should request from mobile operators printouts for the phones of those involved as they can prove whether they held talks on the “finishing” of Yaneva and the “masking” of her offenses.
By law, operators are required to store for law enforcement all traffic data for six months back, and these six months have already expired since the events occurred in February. There is a slim chance that Boyko Borisov, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, and SJC members Yassen Todorov, Dimitar Uzunov and Milka Itova have kept printouts for their phones from February 2015, and will have the goodwill to provide them to the Ethics Commission.
Part of the talks, however, has taken place on Viber, as it became clear from the published so far recordings. Bivol received guarantees from Viber that the data for the calls are kept for 30 months and can be provided for a small fee to law enforcement authorities if they request it.
The Chair of the Supreme Court of Cassations, Lozan Panov, the only one so far, called on Thursday for full transparency of the probe in the recordings of the conversations between Yaneva and Chenalova. “The Ethics Commission must do its job and then the case could be referred to a much higher level,” he said ahead of the meeting of the SJC.
A higher level will be obviously needed after this leak of information that foreign embassies have been spied on. The firsthand disclosure of this secret by Yaneva now calls for an investigation by the prosecution in the content of the recordings, not just whether they were made legally and who made them, as they said they would do. However, such an investigation cannot but cause doubts that it will be impartial, provided that the Chief Prosecutor, himself, is involved in the scandal.
VYA: I am running on Friday to Itso Dimov. And I tell him: “Itso-o-o, the file is with you. Tell me what the situation is? Itso Dimov says: “Vladi (Vladimira), there is no such information and we are not working in this direction. Only, please give us the information we want. Cuz there was a dispute as they wanted the register for six months, and I told them: “Request the register only for the SSD that interest you, why are you asking for the entire register?”
And I say: “I am nervous to give it to you, because there are thing in it about embassies, about this and that, and so on, such information…”
RCH: Yes, yes, yes
VYA: But they said, no, send it for the six months and he says: “Send me the information that I want from you.”
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