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Investigations, leaks, censorship, corruption, mafia and government


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Assen Yordanov | Bivol (Balkanleaks)

CMPF Summer School 2013 for Journalists and Media Practitioners

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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Investigations, leaks, censorship, corruption, mafia and government

  1. 1. Assen Yordanov 15/05/2013 “Freedom and Pluralism of Traditional and New Media” Florence, 13-17 May 2013 Investigations, leaks, censorship, corruption, mafia and government
  2. 2. About Bivol •Assen Yordanov & Atanas Tchobanov: started - investigative journalism web site in 2010; •Frontal of Balkanleaks – journalists consortium modeled after the Wikileaks example; •Wikileaks partner in Bulgaria since March 2011; • is funded only by donations by the readers.
  3. 3. The Context: We work in a Mafia State in EU!
  4. 4. European Union 11th CVM Report on Bulgaria July 2012 •The reform process has not built the momentum needed to become an accepted part of Bulgaria's development. •The fact that external pressure is still necessary raises questions about the sustainability and irreversibility of change.
  5. 5. The Bulgarian Exception: Organized Crime feeds corruption in Bulgaria. The country was ruled and is ruled now by true criminals; This is possible because of the Western Realpolitik: Political «Doublethink» and «Our-Son-of-a- Bitch» doctrine.
  6. 6. The Context: Since Bulgaria is an EU member media freedom worsened!
  7. 7. Bulgaria even has collapsed 7 ranks down, evidenced by the yesterday’s report of RSF Political instability puts journalists in the eye of the storm Political instability often has a divisive effect on the media and makes it very difficult to produce independently-reported news and information. In such situations, threats and physical attacks on journalists and staff purges are common.
  8. 8. (Auto) Censorship Example
  9. 9. «A former Head of the CIA, confirmed for Taz that SIMO and the CIA are the same thing. "SIMO is an administrative term for the CIA, actually used only for internal purposes, and as such, it should not have been used in the cables.» «Would Borisov have remained in office if the American secret service CIA had declared itself a key witness in the allegations against the Prime Minister?» Prime Minister Borisov Exposed... The Document: 06SOFIA647 on The Comment: Tageszeitung ALDE Hearing on "Media Freedom in Bulgaria" 06 June 2012 Assen Yordanov
  10. 10. Tageszeitung • On 30/05/2012 the German newspaper Tageszeitung reported a story based on US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. The story revealed a codename for the CIA, found in many top secret cables - SIMO.
  11. 11. The Document: 06SOFIA647 Information from SIMO? Tageszeitung revealed SIMO=CIA PM Borisov - major drug trafficker, CIA says
  12. 12. Deutsche Welle 31/05/2012 • The article was translated and published in Bulgarian on Deutsche Welle4с web site, then published by the BGNES news agency and by Novinite news agency in English.
  13. 13. One week later... • One of the most popular and commented stories on the Bulgarian internet • More than 3000 Google references VESTI.BG 06/06/2012 Most Commented
  14. 14. International coverage
  15. 15. In the classic media • No such story on TV; • No such story by any other news agency: BTA, Focus; • No such story on Radio; • No such story in newspapers (3 exceptions); • Try a search: симо цру борисов They are the 99% The silent ones... ALDE Hearing on "Media Freedom in Bulgaria" 06 June 2012 Assen Yordanov
  16. 16. But why? Tell it publicly and you loose your job?
  17. 17. How we work? • Classic investigations – public registries, meeting sources, hidden camera…; • New technologies – Wikileaks like submission via TOR (Balkanleaks); • Anonymous submission is essential for whistleblowers in the Bulgarian context.
  18. 18. The “Buddha Files” Confirming Borissov criminal background
  19. 19. The “Buddha Files” In 1997 The Antimafia Squad opens the Case of Operative Surveillance « Buddha » to investigate the « priority criminal orientation » of Boyko Borissov
  20. 20. Balkanleaks platform All documents from the file have leaked anonymously through Bivol's platform Balkanleaks, which is modeled after the famous WikiLeaks, and have been revealed for the very first time.
  21. 21. International Coverage
  22. 22. Buddha is confirming previous Bulgarian Police records In 1995 Borisov owned a factory for contraband cigarettes
  23. 23. Current Bulgarian PM Borisov’s criminal past is exposed by multiple sources and witnesses. European and world leaders were warned!
  24. 24. International Media Warnings: In 2007 an article in «Congressional Quarterly» quotes an FBI officer saying about Borisov: “...the U.S. government made a terrible choice in who to go to bed with in Bulgaria. “What the hell — we seem to take help from anyone, however dirty, in the ‘war on terror.’ ”
  25. 25. The CQ article Written by prominent journalist Jeff Stein the article quotes a 200-page confidential report prepared for a Swiss bank. The core pages of this report were first and only published by
  26. 26. We submitted all the evidence about Borisov to the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office but they refused to open an investigation.
  27. 27. We submitted all the evidence to the CRIM Committee and they refused a hearing. We believe this was a politically biased decision.
  28. 28. A violent smear campaign was launched against after we published the Buddha Files.
  29. 29. US Ambassador in Sofia John Beyrle wrote on Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov in 2006: «We should continue to push him in the right direction, but never forget who we’re dealing with». The Document: 06SOFIA647
  30. 30. The Document: 08SOFIA631 OLAF: «If Bulgaria brings down Bozhkov, that would be progress» Leaks revealed also European money abuse!
  31. 31. In 2007 the ALDE group organized an exhibition of Bozhkov’s art collection in the European Parliament
  32. 32. 2012 - «Bulgaria’s most infamous gangster Vasil Bozhkov, aka «The Skull» is still constructing the «Trakia» highway with European money. That’s progress, indeed... The Document: 09SOFIA508
  33. 33. So, the State Department knew, EU and OLAF knew, the CIA knew, BND knew, MI6 knew... (KGB knew it before them)
  34. 34. Because of the “leaks” and journalistic investigations the citizens know more about the entrails of corruption and the state-mafia nexus... And they also know that their governments knew.
  35. 35. References • Transparency International, «Corruption Perceptions Index» 2007-2011, • Reporters Without Borders, «Media Freedom Ranking» 2005-2011, • World Justice Project, «Rule of Law Index» 2012 • Moses Naim, «Mafia States», Foreign Affairs, April 2012 • European Commission, «On Progress in Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism» (11th CVM Report )
  36. 36. Thank you!