World Leader Denies Bribing FBI Official 

( A former top-level FBI counterintelligence official is now facing criminal charges in the United States, and on Thursday, the Prime Minister of Albania denied claims that he had accepted payments from or shown favors to this individual. 

Socialist Party leader and speaker of the Albanian Parliament Edi Rama said the opposition intended to politically use a legal proceeding in the United States without links to Albania, the government, or himself personally. 

As the opposition claimed that Rama was connected to former FBI official and counterintelligence operative Charles McGonigal, they asked him to join the parliamentary debate. In the United States, McGonigal is suspected of hiding crucial information about a 2017 trip to Albania with a former Albanian intelligence official thought to have paid him at least $225,000. The excursion was supposedly born in 2017. 

McGonigal met with Rama often and warned him against issuing oil field drilling licenses to front firms with ties to the Russian government. Rama acknowledged the occurrences but denied providing any financial assistance or preferential treatment. 

After giving a 45-minute address and then departing the parliament building, Rama remarked that among the lines of the indictment, there is no charge or any other information other than “accurate reporting of my remarks.” 

McGonigal faces further allegations that he worked for a Russian billionaire when he was tasked with investigating such an oligarch. 

The opposition parties of Albania, the Democratic Party (center-right), led by former President, who was also Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and the Freedom Party (left-wing), led by former President Ilir Meta, have been asking for the resignation of the current government since the beginning of this month, alleging corruption, links to organized crime, and poor economic policies. 

On Friday, protesters from around the country will converge in the capital to hold another opposition-organized rally. On the same day, an appeals court will decide on who should continue to head the Democratic Party, the biggest opposition group, between Lulzim Basha and Berisha. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken prohibited Berisha and his immediate family from entering the country in 2021 for “corrupt actions that undermined democracy” during Berisha’s time as prime minister from 2005 to 2013. Since then, the party has been plagued by internal struggle; the previous year had a similar occurrence in Britain.