VIDEO: Interim findings released on investigation of Rustavi 2's case

The investigation into the claims Rustavi 2 was bugged is being investigated under Article 158 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, 09 May 2014 - 19:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Chief Prosecutors Office of Georgia has released interim results of their investigation into claims the Rustavi 2 television company was bugged.

Initial findings revealed the installation of CCTV cameras at the broadcasting outlet could be connected to Special State Protection Service officers under control of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, the Prosecutor’s Office said today in a statement.

As part of the investigation, the head of Rustavi 2’s security service gave the Chief Prosecutor’s Office CCTV tapes of December 21, 2012. The images showed Special State Protection Service officers were present at the television station that day, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

See the image from Rustavi2's CCTV tapes of December 21, 2012 below. Source: Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

The Office said testimony from Rustavi 2 security head Teimuraz Kovziashvili said the protection officers were on site to conduct ‘technical work’ using special devices.

On May 6 allegations were voiced claiming the Rustavi 2 headquarters had been bugged. Authorities began investigating the incident the same day. Kovziashvili was subsequently fired, and approached the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Kovziashvili believed the ex-government security officials seen in the CCTV footage had used metal fold-out ladders in the office rooms of Rustavi 2 general director Nika Gvaramia and the head of the newsroom Nino Shubladze.

Gvaramia claimed he was handed two audio-video files which featured meetings between himself and Shubladze at the top management’s office.

When speaking to the Prosecutor’s Office, Kovziashvili said the incident in 2012 raised his suspicion since he, as the head of Rustavi 2 security, had no knowledge of Special State Protection Service officers entering the Rustavi 2 complex that day.

Kovziashvili then became interested to find out why the officers had visited the television station.

"Subsequently, he detected the installation trace of a surveillance audio-video device in the ceiling at one of the office rooms of the TV Company. He immediately informed Nika Gvaramia,” the Prosecutor’s statement said.

"[The general director] advised him not to worry about the issue and continue carrying out his official duties and refrain from extra initiatives,” the statement said.

The Office stated Kovziashvili made an attempt to speak with Gvaramia following the recent developments with Rustavi 2, but was unsuccessful. As a result Kovziashvili was fired and forced to leave immediately.

The Office questioned Gvaramia as a witness in the case but he refused to disclose the source of the surveillance recordings, which he released. The Office said this was an important detail to the investigation.

Gvaramia has not commented on the accusation against him, and only said he "was in prison at that time” and did not have information about this.

Gvaramia blamed the authorities for "creating the case” said that another former head of the Security Service at Rustavi 2 who is acting deputy head of the Department of Corrections Vladimir Bunturidze was behind it.

Gvaramia was suspected of falsifying formal and tax documents, laundering money, and bribery but he found not guilty by Tbilisi City Court on November 2013. He is a former government official of the Saakashvili-led government.

The investigation into the claims Rustavi 2 was bugged is being investigated under Article 158 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which has particular reference to the issue that the recordings violated the secrecy of private conversations and communication.