Special Prosecution Obtained Data of Department of Security and Counterintelligence

Time: 8:21 p.m. CEST

On March 30, 2016, Special prosecution opened the “Fortress” case about the Department of Security and Counterintelligence within the Ministry of Interior.

The Prosecution for the illegal intercepted conversations had acquired all the data from the technical equipment for the legal surveillance from the Department of the Security and Counterintelligence after the arrival of the external technical experts, the prosecution informs. Considering the pre-investigative activities, the prosecution could not explain more to the public. In the previous days, the prosecution obtained the written data and records about the judicial orders for the legal surveillance.

Further, but not much explained to the public, the prosecution could analyze and compare those data with the data disclosed by the opposition about massive reported surveillance of the mobile telephone communications. After tense back and forth negotiations between the special prosecution, formed to investigate the nature of the massive illegal surveillance or intercepted data, the prosecution has access to the data recorded and stored by the technical equipment within the ministry of Interior.

The equipment data manufacturer is the Swedish company “Ericsson.” The public has no information about the specifics of the equipment and when it was installed within the special department for counterintelligence, within the Ministry. A sneak preview of the website of the company can offer glimpse about the possible equipment within the Ministry.

One of the many offers the company has is the machine to machine (M2M) system, or cloud systems, which enables the storage of the data. This company offers solutions for operators to provide information to Law Enforcement Agencies, which is designed to intercept a very small fraction of subscribers, based on legal authorization, the company states. Contrary, the official number of the files points to the massive use of reported technical equipment and stretches from 2008 until 2015.

As the first report of the Special prosecution to the parliament says, the president of the opposition SDSM turned to the prosecution, the external hard drive with 546, 948 files. At the end of March, 2016 Lence Ristovska, a spokesperson of the prosecution explained on the opening of the investigation “Fortress,” which targeted the specific department within the Ministry of Interior. At the news conference in March, Ristovska said some of the technical equipment within the department of this Ministry was destroyed.

Here is what Ristovska said on March 30, 2016.

  • “On March 23, 2015, then the Minister of Interior, established a Commission for the inventory, write off, destruction and deletion of records from the list of the systems and technical equipment in the Security and Intelligence, regardless the existing regulation for handling the classified information without a specific legal basis for the establishment of a commission for destruction of equipment.”
  • “On March 26, 2015, the Commission acceded to the inventory of systems and technical equipment but only in the Department of operative – technical support operations. The following day, on March 27, 2015, the persons responsible for handling system for monitoring the communications turned off the system for the interception of communications, which was in use at that period. On March 28, 2015 they load the systems, subject of the inventory, including both systems for monitoring of the communications.”
  • “From the Ministry of Interior, the systems and equipment were transferred to the scrap metal waste site, where the members of the Commission were present. The first and fourth suspect provided logistical support to implement the destruction and they gave an order to another person to document the event. Members of the Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, currently unknown to the investigation, observed the destroying of the equipment until April 3, 2015.”
  • “On April 3, 2015, without knowledge and the presence of all members of the Commission and after an order of the first suspect, part of the Commission members loaded the already destroyed systems and rushed to another legal entity, where they put the systems and equipment in a crasher and were again crushed. The Commission prepared a report, but until now, there is no evidence as to whether this report was submitted to then Director of the Security and Intelligence and to the Interior Minister.”
  • “Once the person who conducted the video and photo documentation of the event placed them on DVD and gave them to the fourth suspect, he destroyed them in order to cover the traces. The second suspect submitted a letter to the Financial Affairs Department at the Ministry of Interior, to efface everything from the equipment and systems from the data lists from the security and counterintelligence.”

Later, this fall, the prosecution opened new case and requested entering the Department for Security and Counterintelligence with the judicial order. Almost two years after disclosure of the reported massive surveillance, the public misses the correct answer who committed the surveillance and with what purpose. The legal position of the department is part of the extensive experts report, which relates to the European integration of Macedonia. According to the current laws, the Ministry of Interior stores surveillance equipment, but probably also has optical cables to the telecommunication operators.


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