by Aggelos Skordas
The two FYROM nationals wanted by their country’s authorities and arrested in Thessaloniki “Macedonia” international airport on October 18 have filed a request seeking asylum to Greece, according to their lawyer Petar Vasilev. Goran Grujevski and Nikola Boskoski, who previously served as officers in FYROM’s secret police and counterterrorism department will appear before a court in Thessaloniki on May 17, 2018, even though their hearing was scheduled for Friday. Specifically, the two fugitives, wanted by the neighbouring country’s authorities and Europol, have been brought before a court in Thessaloniki twice but their hearings have been postponed as there was no interpreter available.
Grujevski and Boskoski, 51 and 35 years old respectively, were on the run for three months and the neighbouring country’s authorities have issued a warrant for their arrest on charges of setting up a criminal organisation and for technology-related crimes. Greek authorities were led to their arrest as they attempted to leave Greece and board a plane for Budapest on forged Bulgarian documents. According to FYROM’s media, the two former Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (UBK) officials, are indicated by a special public prosecution in cases codenamed “Fortress”, “Fortress 2” and “Target” over illegal interception of communications.
The wiretapping scandal surfaced in FYROM in 2015. Then-main opposition Social Democrat Party (SDSM) leader and today Prime Minister Zoran Zaev released tapes that contained illegally recorded phone conversations of about 20,000 citizens of FYROM. Among those taped were prominent politicians, state officials and journalists and the scandal triggered a political crisis that eventually led to December 2016 parliamentary elections, which saw the government of then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski brought down. On his behalf, Gruevski insisted that his conservative party VMRO DPMNE was not involved in the illegal wiretapping and accused the intelligence agencies of foreign countries, which he never named.
FYROM authorities have requested Grejevski’s and Boskovski’s extradition on November 6, although, the Greek court is set to reply in whether it approves the request by December 13.