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Georgiaís Prosecutorís Office detains five people for taping and keeping surveillance videos

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, April 11
Georgiaís Chief Prosecutorís Office held a special briefing on Friday to announce they had detained five former officials involved in illegal taping and story the videos of various citizens' private lives which were released online on March 11-14 this year.

The Office charged seven people in total serving under the previous United National Movement (UNM) government, for the crime, however, one of the charged was on the run while another left Georgia long before.

The investigation revealed that former officials of the Georgiaís Constitutional Security Department (CSD) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia selected either famous public figures or opposition leaders, illegally installed surveillance cameras in their apartments or temporal destinations and recorded their private lives in order to allegedly blackmail them in the future.

Those already detained are:
Vasil Leluashvili, deputy head of the CSD;
Revaz Shiukashvili, former head of Tbilisi Main Department of the CSD;
Roman Zaalashvili, former head of the Tbilisi Second Department of the CDS;
Irakli Kipshidze, former head of Old Tbilisi Department of Georgiaís Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA);
Zurab Pavliashvili, former head of the MIA Seventh Department of the Old Tbilisi.

Gigla Shioshvili, former deputy head of the MIA Seventh Department of Old Tbilisi are on the run, while Givi Katsitadze, former head of the Sixth Department of CSD, was charged in absentia.

While speaking about the case the Prosecutorís Office spokesperson focused on three cases when the suspects illegally taped the private lives of two political leaders and one journalist in 2011-2012.

The Prosecutorís Office stated it was still investigating the people who stood behind the online release of the surveillance videos taped and kept by the people.

If found guilty, the detainees will face 5-8 year behind bars.

The UNM opposition criticized the Chief Prosecutorís Office as they failed to name the people who spread the videos online.

Moreover, UNM member Goka Gabashvili said Leluashvili was actively cooperating with the Georgian Dream coalition in 2012-2013 and actually headed the GDís election staff in some of Georgia's regions.

The statement was dismissed by the ruling power.

Hundreds of videos reflecting the private lives of Georgian citizens were illegally taped and stored by the United National Movement (UNM) government to allegedly blackmail people.

The majority of videos were publicly destroyed by the current Government in 2013 after the Georgian Dream coalition defeated UNM in 2012. Only a certain number of the videos (apparently unrelated to private lives) were saved to help any future investigations.

However, one of private life videos released on YouTube on March 11 allegedly showing an opposition party leader caused a stir in Georgia and generated significant public backlash.

On March 14, another video similar in content appeared on Youtube but it was immediately blocked.

On March 15, the Chief Prosecutorís Office of Georgia charged five people for keeping this type of illegal videos but the agency did not specify whether these people were responsible for their release.

Other videos showing a personís private life were sent to several journalists on March 31 but these videos were immediately blocked to the public.