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Round Table: The Use of Wiretaps in the Investigation of Organised Crime and Corruption

On 20 February 2012 , the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table entitled The Use of Wiretaps in the Investigation of Organised Crime and Corruption. The special guest was Mr. Peter Ainsworth, Senior Deputy Chief, Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice. The issues discussed were related to the problems that the Bulgarian judiciary faces in tackling issues of corruption and organized crime, especially when it comes to high-ranking officials. Mr. Ainsworth was familiarized with the role and jurisdiction of the newly established specialized court in Bulgaria with regard to ruling out cases of organized crime.

Mr. Ainsworth shared experience on the use of wiretaps as well as the legal restriction of their use in conducting criminal investigations in the USA. Mr. Ainsworth explained that the number of wiretaps is not monitored, as there exists a comprehensive system of protections aimed at reducing the abuse of wiretaps. These included:
- The need for courts to sanction each use of wiretap
- The need for frequent (often weekly) updates of the court about the ongoing investigation, and presenting evidence about the continuing need for the use of wiretaps
- The strategy for minimization of wiretapping of personal information not relevant to the investigation (including technical means to do so)
- The mandatory notification of all individuals who have been wiretapped after the conclusion of the investigation.

In addition, he mentioned the issue of cost of wiretaps as another restriction on their extensive use. Mr. Ainsworth also emphasized the role of the media in preventing the discontinuation of high-profile corruption investigations.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth, Senior Deputy Chief, Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Participants in the round table.

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