U.S. bars entry to former Albanian president Berisha due to corruption

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Albania's PM Berisha speaks during a news conference in Tirana

TIRANA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday barred former Albanian president and prime minister Sali Berisha and his family from entering the United States due to "corrupt acts" and abuse of power.

Blinken said in a statement that Berisha, as prime minister in particular, was involved in "corrupt acts such as misappropriation of public funds and interfering with public processes, including using his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members".

Blinken said on Twitter that Berisha had undermined democracy in Albania.

"I am publicly designating Berisha and his immediate family members as ineligible for entry into the United States," he tweeted. "We remain #UnitedAgainstCorruption with our partners in Albania."

There was no immediate response from Berisha's office when contacted by Reuters. Berisha does not face any criminal proceedings in Albania.

Berisha served as president from 1992 to 1997, immediately after the fall of communism in Albania, and as prime minister between 2005 and 2013.

Albania was granted European Union candidate status in 2014, but has made little progress since, mainly because of the failure to implement reforms.

(Reporting by Florion Goga in Tirana and Fatos Bytyci in Pristina; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Nick Macfie)