Six charged in Bulgaria with financing ‘terrorist’ groups

Five Syrians and a Bulgarian have been charged with financing terrorist groups in the Middle East with 25 million euros ($28.4 million) - adding to haul of 43 people arrested in seven Bulgarian cities and towns on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2019
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Six charged in Bulgaria with financing ‘terrorist’ groups

SOFIA: Five Syrians and a Bulgarian have been charged with financing terrorist groups in the Middle East with 25 million euros ($28.4 million), Bulgaria’s attorney general said Saturday.
“The group transferred at least 25 million euros to terrorist organizations over four years,” Rumiana Arnaudova, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said.
They were also charged with “preparing terrorist acts in another country,” she said.
The money was moved about by the “hawala” system, an informal method of payment based on trust that is far more difficult to trace than bank transfers.
Deputy Attorney General Ivan Guechev said such a network was “without precedent in the European Union.”
The money transferring network operates in many European countries and has facilitated the movement of 100-300 million euros per year, according to sources close to the enquiry cited in the Bulgarian 24 Chasa newspaper.
The six charged make up part of a haul of 43 people arrested in seven Bulgarian cities and towns on Friday.
The group also delivered at least 100 vehicles, bought in Bulgaria, to terror groups in Syria, Arnaudova said.


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 20 February 2019
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.