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McGonigal accepts the blame for the Albanian file, why it is bad news for the Rama government
The US Department of Justice, District of Columbia has announced that former FBI agent Charles McGonigal has pleaded guilty to withholding information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He admitted today in the Washington Court that he received 225 thousand dollars from Agron Nezaj, a former Albanian agent, and that he met Edi Rama.
“McGonigal pleaded guilty today to concealing material facts about receiving $225,000 from an individual who had business interests in Europe while McGonigal was overseeing counterintelligence efforts. The request was accepted by US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who set a sentencing hearing for February 16, 2024 ," the announcement states, among other things.
But what does this mean for the Albanian government?
It seems that this is not good news for the 'Rama' government, at a time when the government is facing a series of other scandals.
We recall that in the US indictment, the name of Prime Minister Edi Rama is mentioned 14 times and the connections he had, together with two other Albanian officials, Agron Neza and Dorian Ducka, with former agent McGonigal.
There was talk of at least 4 meetings that Rama had held with McGonigal in Albania and the USA, which were held in violation of FBI protocols for such meetings.
The former FBI special agent has been charged with money laundering, violating US sanctions and other offenses related to his work with a Russian oligarch.
It is alleged that McGonigal performed some services in his favor, hitting an opposition party in Albania, which is suspected to be the Democratic Party.
The opposition accuses Prime Minister Rama of using McGonigal as a "hitman" against the Democratic Party and pluralism in the country, and has even requested the establishment of an Investigative Commission regarding this issue.
"Bombs" of foreign media
Për vizitat e McGonigal në Shqipëri “New York Times” ka shkruar më herët se “Ndërsa ishte ende në FBI, ai krijoi një marrëdhënie me kryeministrin e Shqipërisë Edi Rama dhe sipas prokurorëve të Uashingtonit ndërmori hapa që ishin në dobi të këtij politikani”.
Lidhjen mes parave që mori dhe shërbimit që i bëri Ramës e ka vënë në dukje edhe CNN, kur shkruajti “McGonigal dyshohet se pranoi të paktën 225,000 dollarë për të ofruar atë lloj ndihme, duke gënjyer FBI-në për aktivitetet e tij, duke përfshirë udhëtimet e shumta në Evropë të paguara nga kontakti i tij shqiptar dhe të marra pa informuar FBI-në, si dhe kamufloi një marrëdhënie të fshehtë që ai mbante me Kryeministrin e Shqipërisë”.
Even more direct was the Washington Post, when it described the relationship between Edi Rama and the former FBI official in darker notes. "Charles McGonigal has received money to advance the interests of the Albanian prime minister", the newspaper writes. "McGonigal was up to his neck in secret deals with the prime minister of Albania," says the Washington Post.