Albanian Prosecution Starts Investigation Into Leaked Wiretaps Published by BILD Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku (right) and Head of Serious Crimes Prosecution Office Donika Prela (left)

Albanian Serious Crimes Prosecution Office has initiated an investigation into the leaking of wiretaps published yesterday by Bild.

Wiretapping was done by the prosecution in 2016 but since then the investigation into the case has not progressed.

This is the third time the prosecution office responds swiftly by opening investigations into the leaks of conversations of the ruling Socialist Party. Prime Minister Edi Rama has also made similar calls for investigations.

In January 2019, the Serious Crimes Prosecution initiated investigations into the leaking of wiretaps used in the Voice of America (VOA) report. They showed Socialist Party MPs and high officials colluding with criminal gangs to buy votes during the 2017 general elections in Durrës. Mayor of Durrës Vangjush Dako appeared to collude with the Avdylaj criminal group, members of which were arrested at the German government’s direct pressure. No Socialist Party official was arrested.

Then, less than two weeks ago, the prosecution issued a gag order banning the media from publishing wiretaps of the Albanian Electiongate, which were leaked to the German newspaper Bild. Prosecutor Donika Prela went on a rare press conference to condemn the leaks, while failing to respond to questions regarding the reasons why no arrests were made in one and a half years.

Yesterday, the same prosecution office, as well as Prime Minister Rama condemned the leaks. The prosecution started an investigation, while Rama vowed to sue the German journalist Peter Tiede, who published the wiretaps.

The latest wiretaps seem to show that vote-buying and manipulation of early local elections in Dibër County in 2016 were planned, executed, monitored, and those involved were rewarded by Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, ministers, socialist MPs, high Socialist Party officials, high public administration officials, high police officials, businessmen, local public administration, regional education administration, school principals and teachers – all seem to have conspired and colluded in vote-buying and manipulation of elections. Conversations seem to show that the manipulation was based on a clear strategy and objectives, ultimately monitored by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who also rewarded those involved in the criminal activity.

For about three years, the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office headed by Donika Prela has not indicted any of the officials involved in the manipulation of elections, despite the clear proof of punishable offenses.