SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The U.S. government imposed sanctions Wednesday on the former head of Bosnia’s state security agency, accusing him of misusing state resources for the benefit of his political party and collaborating with criminal networks to enrich himself.
The Treasury Department alleged that Osman Mehmedagic misused his position to instruct a state-owned telecom company to collect cellular activity of politicians not affiliated with the SDA party.
Treasury said in a statement that Mehmedagic also “has used his position, threats and connections” to sway candidates from an alliance of parties that defeated his party in general elections last October to support the SDA during ensuing coalition talks.
“There is also credible information that Mehmedagic has collaborated with criminal networks to enrich himself and his political party,” the statement added.
Following the announcement of sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Mehmedagic’s transgressions “reflected a larger pattern of behavior” by ethnonationalist political parties in Bosnia, including the SDA, which “have weaponized key justice and security sector institutions to misuse resources in support of political goals and to protect criminal organizations with whom they are associated.”
Mehmedagic was replaced as head of the state security agency last month after more than 7 years on the post.
Also Wednesday, the Treasury Department levied sanctions on Edin Gacanin, born in Bosnia but raised in the Netherlands, accusing him of being “one of the world’s most prolific drug traffickers.”
Treasury said Gacanin was the leader of the Tito and Dino Cartel, “which includes his family members and his friends” from Bosnia and also engages in money laundering.
The sanctions against Gacanin, it added, were closely coordinated with the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, the European Union’s Europol agency, and the governments of The Netherlands, France and Belgium.
Any property or interest belonging to the sanctioned individuals in the United States is blocked and must be reported.