In July 2013, the journalist Julian Hristov from the online OFFNews.bg filed a request to the Ministry of Interior, seeking information on whether the MP Volen Siderov (the leader of the nationalistic party “Ataka” in parliament) had a gun permit and when it was issued, as well as which medical institution issued the necessary medical certificate. The interest of the journalist was triggered by the appearance of Mr. Siderov with a gun in the National Assembly on June 28, 2013.
The MoI had refused on the grounds that this information is not public since it is not related to the ministry’s activities but rather to personal data of the Member of Parliament.
The refusal was challenged before the court with the legal assistance of AIP.
By a Ruling No. 219 (in Bulgarian) of 15 January 2014 the Administrative Court Sofia – City (ACSC) repealed a refusal by the Ministry of Interior. The court held that the information sought was public. A firearm permit is an official document issued by the respective body of the MoI structure in carrying out its powers under the Firearms and Ammunition Act. Furthermore, according to the court, in this case there is an overriding public interest in disclosure of the information since it will increase the transparency and accountability not only of the ministry, but also of the Member of Parliament himself.
With a decision №812100/ 25.07.2014, the Ministry of Interior granted access to the requested information. The response stated that two gun permits were issued to Mr. Siderov which were confiscated by an order of the Chief of the 6th Police Department in Sofia and stored in the department as of April 11, 2014. The date and the medical institution which had issued the medical certificate were also given.