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Bulgarian judge denied entry to US, Pompeo sharply criticises Bulgaria's rule of law

EPA-EFE/JAKUB GAVLAK
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a media conference after his meeting with the Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bratislava, Slovakia, 12 February 2019. Pompeo is on an official visit to Slovakia.

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United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo barred a Bulgarian judge from entering the US because of his alleged involvement in “significant corruption”.
The US State Department reaffirmed in a statement “the US commitment to combating corruption in Bulgaria and globally”. The wife and daughter of Specialized Criminal Court Judge Andon Mitalov also won’t be allowed into the US, Pompeo said.
“In his official capacity, Mitalov was involved in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law and severely compromised the independence of democratic institutions in Bulgaria”, Pompeo said in a statement, without providing any details of the Mitalov’s acts.
In November, Mitalov issued a court order that allowed Nikolay Malinov, the head of the National Russophile Movement in Bulgaria, to travel to Moscow to receive a state honor from Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
However, at the time, Malinov was prohibited from leaving Bulgaria as he was on bail awaiting trial for espionage. He is accused of spying for Russia, more precisely for supplying information to help Russia turn Bulgaria away from its pro-Western orientation. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Bulgaria has close ties with Russia as it relies on its energy supplies. It is also a NATO and EU member. The country has been criticized for its slow progress in the fight against corruption. The EU Commission has also slammed Bulgaria over its record in the areas of rule of law.

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