News of the McGonigal case and the connection to Prime Minister Rama has been on the headlines for weeks. Among them, many speculations have circulated freely in the media and the web, spreading false information. Such is the news published by the Albanian media with the title ” New York Times refutes the accusations: McGonigal did not hide the relationship with Rama, he contacted by his official email and phone”. “Faktoje” brings facts from the investigation file to prove the inaccuracies in this article.
The McGonigal case and the involvement of the Albanian prime minister in the indictments of the American prosecution continues to be a “hot” topic in Albania. This is especially due to the fact that the prime minister has not yet answered many questions that arise after reading the two FBI indictments against McGonigal, the former FBI chief accused of violating sanctions against Russia and several other charges. . Most of the articles published on the network regarding this issue, make it obvious that the author of the article has not read the official document on which the news is based.
This also happened with the news that another media cites about the news, in this case the New York Times, and not the official documents that are public. This news was first published on January 29 by ZgjohuShqiptar and Konica.al , and then it was published on February 3 by RTSH , Shqiptarja.com , Gazeta Tema and lexo.al.
It is easily recognizable that some of the articles repeat the theses that the prime minister has said in his defence , when asked by journalists in television studios.
McGonigal did not hide his relationship with Rama
In fact, regardless of what the Albanian opposition says, the hiding of the meetings between McGonigal and Rama, which in some of the above-mentioned articles is placed in quotation marks (“hidden”), is an easily verifiable fact in the documents of the American prosecution. In fact, concealing information about trips to Albania, meetings with Prime Minister Rama and the reasons for these meetings constitute one of the direct accusations against McGonigal. “Faktoje” disclosed the document of the American prosecution where it is emphasized that McGonigal hid the meeting with Prime Minister Rama several times in the FBI forms.
The articles try to argue the claim raised in the first paragraph, using the article published by the New York Times to support their argument. “ In fact, this is refuted by an article published today by the prestigious American ‘New York Times’, which makes it clear that Mr. McGonigal has used official credentials, official email and official phone to communicate with Rama and the Albanian government and it is very clear that he had no intention of hiding this relationship.” – writes the Albanian newspaper.
A simple reading of the indictment shows that McGonigal announced the September 2017 meeting in advance as an “unofficial” trip to Albania.
*Facsimile of the Columbia indictment of McGonigal
At the same time, as mentioned above, McGonigal after returning from this trip lied about the meeting with Prime Minister Rama on the FBI form.
*facsimile of the Columbia indictment where the FBI states that McGonigal hid the meeting with Rama from them
Despite this, a section of the media chose to highlight the fact that the communication for arranging the McGonigal-Rama meeting was made by the official FBI email, and this, according to the article, indicates that McGonigal was not hiding his relationship with Rama. This is so, even though the FBI has proven that McGonigal lied on the form when reporting the trip to Albania, not announcing his meeting with Prime Minister Rama.
The New York Times article on the McGonigal case, which the above articles refer to, in fact, raises another accusation against Prime Minister Rama when it writes that “ While McGonigal was still at the FBI, he developed a relationship with the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, and undertook steps for the benefit of the politician… ”
What steps McGonigal took for the benefit of the Albanian prime minister, remains in the hands of Albanian and American justice to establish.
The normal meeting McGonigal – Rama – Neza
The articles also claim that the New York Times has verified the truthfulness of Prime Minister Rama’s statements on television. According to the news, “ Rama also revealed the important fact that it was the FBI official who first contacted him asking for a meeting.” And in the meeting, they talked about the issues of the region and Russian interests, and he introduced Agron Neza as an Albanian-American that he knew.”
What these media did not translate from the New York Times article is the fact that during the meeting that the Prime Minister says was about issues of the region and Russian interests, McGonigal, prompted by Agron Neza, asked Prime Minister Rama to make a government decision to the financial benefit of him (McGonigal) and Agron Neza.
Apparently, the content of this meeting has nothing to do with the affairs of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI official’s request to Prime Minister Rama, a request made at McGonigal’s unofficial meeting in Albania, which he hid from the authorities, has been explained even less. It is certain, however, that following the investigation carried out and the publication of hidden meetings, the FBI has not considered the relationship between McGonigal and Prime Minister Edi Rama as a normal one.
The money McGonigal borrowed from Neza
Another distortion of information in the above-mentioned articles, which fully matches the thesis used by Prime Minister Rama, is what is called “non-declaration of debt” in the news.
In fact, the FBI’s indictment against McGonigal is about a scheme the accused used in relation to this money. According to the indictment, the scheme used by McGonigal was aimed at concealing the nature of his relationship with Agron Neza and the fact that he demanded and received $225,000 from him in three separate parts, one of which he received in the parking lot.
The FBI states in the indictment that McGonigal not only hid the receipt of money from Agron Neza, but he also hid several trips to Europe that he made with Neza. McGonigal and Neza have been business associates since McGonigal was still an FBI official, which makes it mandatory for him to declare the relationship between the two because of the conflict of interest.
Therefore, the interpretation of the receipt of money as “non-declaration of debt” is completely taken out of context as it refers to the receipt of money as something separate from the other hidden facts of the relationship between the two.
McGonigal did not work for the Russian oligarch
A part of the media offers yet another false piece of information, which in the absence of context, is impossible for readers to understand.
According to such information, “ in another article, the New York Times wrote that there is no indication to prove the other accusation against McGonigal that he worked for the Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, while still in office. So this charge against McGonigal can be dropped since no connection is proven between him and the Russian oligarch while he was the head of the counterintelligence department at the FBI.”
This claim has been published as news in other media as well, without performing even the slightest verification of the information provided.
In fact, the New York indictment does not at all accuse McGonigal of breaking the law in favour of oligarch Deripaska while working at the FBI. The indictment states that McGonigal, in violation of the sanctions imposed by the US on Oleg Deripaska, provided services to Deripaska and laundered money for payment from him during the years 2019-2021, that is, at least one year after McGonigal had left the FBI in 2018.
So, while it is true that McGonigal did not work for the Russian oligarch while working for the FBI, it is also true that the US prosecutor’s charges cannot be dropped for that reason, since McGonigal is accused of illegal activity in favour of the oligarch after leaving the FBI.
It is obvious that the conclusion reached by the Albanian media articles, which interpret only part of the information provided by the “New York Times”, is incorrect. The information served by ZgjohuShqiptar , Konica.al , RTSH , Shqiptarja.com , Gazeta Tema and lexo.al are taken out of context and lead to misinformation for the readers.