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Albania to Quizz Police Over Use of Sky, Encrochat Apps

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The Ministry of Interior of Albania has confirmed to BIRN that it has started to work on self-declare forms for police that include a question about their use of the encrypted or secure messaging apps SKY and Encrochat.

This came after some operations revealed that senior police officers had used these encrypted apps and had communicated via them with organised crime groups.

Minister of Interior Taulant Balla on November 24 warned officers that if they submit fake declarations, they will excluded from the force.

“Regarding the phenomenon of encrypted applications, I have requested that the verification of the use of these applications by police officers be part of the self-declaration form completed by each officer, which, in case of false declaration, will result in his final exclusion from the ranks of the police,” Balla said.

But one lawyer, Jordan Daci, said these forms should only be voluntary, not mandatory

“This declaration can practically be self-incriminating and this is protected by the Constitution … no one can be forced to make statements against himself,” Daci told BIRN.

“It is normal … to find out which policeman has this (SKY) because a policeman has no business with this type of communication, although it is not prohibited by law. But communication with SKY is not illegal, you can use it for innocent reasons, you can want more privacy, just a choice, it can be a commercial issue,” Daci added.

“In principle, a policeman doesn’t need it, but this does not automatically make it illegal to carry it,” he added.

The most recent case was revealed by the Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organized Crime, SPAK, which said it had cracked a criminal group trafficking cocaine from Latin America to Europe, as well as police officials involved, in an operation coordinated with Europol and Eurojust on November 21.

The investigations revealed the involvement of police officials, such as a former deputy director of the Tirana Police and head of crimes at Police Station No 6 in Tirana.

On July 28, an operation led by the police and SPAK netted senior police officials among those accused of murder, drug trading and other high crimes. Those arrested included the former Chief of Operations, a special force, Oltion Bistri, who was dismissed recently.

SPAK has also arrested the Prosecutor of Kukes, Xhevahir Lita. Others arrested included known people from the crime world and businessmen. SPAK has filed charges of corruption, abuse of office and organised crime against them.

In both cases, communications between criminal groups were made through the encrypted app SKY ECC.

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