Hungarian intelligence took part in facilitating the escape of a former Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski to Hungary, two individuals with knowledge of the matter told Politico.
Nikola Gruevski served as Macedonia’s prime minister until 2016 and was due to start a jail sentence earlier this month over corruption charges when he suddenly left the country and appeared in Budapest.
A week later, ex-PM Gruevski announced that he was granted asylum in Hungary.
Hungary’s foreign minister admitted earlier this week that Hungarian diplomats accompanied the former Macedonian leader during his trip through the Balkans to Hungary.
A spokesperson for the Hungarian government did not respond to a request for comment on the role of the intelligence apparatus in the operation.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a longtime ally of Nikola Gruevski, publicly defended the decision to grant the former prime minister asylum, pointing to what he described as “complex political struggles and games” in Macedonia.
The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about Gruevski’s move to avoid his jail sentence, while Macedonia has filed a formal extradition request.