ISSN 2330-717X

Albania Replaces Secret Service Chief

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By Besar Likmeta

The Albania president has fired the head of the State Security Agency, SHISH, replacing him with the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Visho Ajazi Lika.

Bahri Shaqiri was nominated as the head of the Albanian State Intelligence Service, SHISH, in January 2005 and was widely respected for his professionalism, particularly for ensuring that key security institutions did not fall under political influence.

Due to his fierce independence, however, he also gained enemies. The government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha repeatedly cut the agency’s funding since assuming power.

Albania
Albania

Although the government sought to replace him, former presidents Moisiu and Bamir Topi supported Shaqiri.

According to Albanian law, the head of SHISH can only be replaced at a proposal by the prime minister, which has to be approved by the president.

In 2010, Berisha tried to fire Shaqiri by amending the Secret Service Law, but faced opposition by NATO and the United States, Albania’s key ally.

After the January 2011 riots, relations between Shaqiri and the government hit rock bottom when he was accused of orchestrating a coup d’état with President Bamir Topi, the General Prosecutor and the opposition.

The government has yet to produce any evidence for the accusations.

Shakiri’s successor, Ajazi Lika, is a mathematician with a PHD from the University of Tirana and he served as diplomat in the Democratic Party run government from 1993-1997.

After 1997, he immigrated to Canada and return in 2005, initially as an adviser to Berisha, and later as deputy minister.

According to local media, he was close to Berisha’s former secret service chief, General Bashkim Gazidede, which headed the service from 1992 to 1997.

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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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