Macedonia court convicts 17 in espionage case


A court in Macedonia has convicted at least 17 people in a spying case involving an unnamed nation or nations.

The leading suspect was Marijan Efremov, AFP reported, an ex-intelligence agency employee accused of leading a spy ring. He was jailed for 15 years.

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors and the defendants were not officially identified.

It is the country's first espionage trial since independence in 1991.

Goran Stojkov, a former police general, was handed a nine-year prison term, AFP said.

Other defendants were found guilty of charges including criminal association, blackmail and fraud.

A police official told Associated Press they included employees of the country's anti-money laundering agency, the defence ministry and the financial crimes police, as well as the intelligence agency.

The court in the capital Skopje said the alleged spy ring was formed in 2009 and was active until 2012, AFP reported.

All the defendants will appeal, according to AP.