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Sofia blames Bulgarian investigative journalist living in France

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The case is described as "cyberterrorism" by the Bulgarian authorities because it was intended to stabilize the highest level of the state. But for Atanas Tchobanov, editor-in-chief of the site of investigation Bivol, it is rather a new form of  " pressure" that he says he is undergoing to stop his multiple investigations into the corruption of local elites.

Thursday 1st August, the Bulgarian National Prosecutor's Office has announced that it has formally requested France – the country of residence of Mr Tchobanov for nearly thirty years – the cooperation of his justice to investigate the journalist in the framework of a mysterious hacking of the tax data of millions of Bulgarian taxpayers.

According to the brief, Mr Tchobanov, an engineer at the CNRS in parallel with his journalistic activities, would be able to bring "Relevant facts" on this leak. "We did not have anything to do with piracy, we just received the files like other media, but we did not publish anything. They may be used someday, but you have to check everything first, " contests this specialist of databases aged 51 years.

The French prosecutor's office has one month to respond to this "European investigation decision" which can potentially include searches, searches or spinning mills. The Bulgarian branch of the Association of European Journalists calls on France to refuse to comply with Sofia's request, worried about the risk of seeing Bivol undergo "Illegal and disproportionate pressures" to reveal its sources. Asked on Wednesday 7 August, the national antiterrorist prosecutor's office and the Paris prosecutor's office said they had received nothing from the Bulgarian authorities for the time being.

Hacking the watering system

The whole affair is part of a mysterious e-mail sent on July 15th to Bivol, but also to other Bulgarian and international events – the message mentions the BBC and Reuters. From an address on the Yandex Russian website, the e-mail gives access to files containing identification numbers, income and some tax data of about five million euros. of 7.1 million Bulgarians, including that of their prime minister, Boiko Borissov. "Your government is delayed. Your state of cyber security is a travesty. Free Julian Assange, proclaims, in approximate English, the author or authors of the biggest piracy in the country's history.

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