US Ambassador: Georgian Gov’t asked us to help investigate illegal surveillance videos

US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly said his country was ready to help Georgia address the existing problem related to the leak of personal videos., 25 Mar 2016 - 18:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

United States (US) Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly says the current Georgian Government is "very concerned” about the leak of surveillance videos illegally taped by the previous authorities and have asked the US to help resolve the problem. 

Kelly said he was not authorised to give details of the consent but said the US accepted the appeal. 

The US diplomat said spreading the illegally obtained videosh showing a person's private life, which most recently rocked Georgia on March 11 and 14, was "totally unacceptable” and "harmful for Georgian democracy.” 

Those who are engaged in spreading the videos online know that their actions are harmful for the country and by doing it they try to influence political situations. This topic is very alarming for the Georgian Government,” Kelly said. 

The Ambassador announced there was very close, daily cooperation between Georgian-US representatives as the risk of more video leaks remained. 

  • Hundreds of videos reflecting the private life of Georgian citizens were illegally taped and stored by the previous United National Movement (UNM) government to 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 small number of videos that were not related to a person’s private life were saved to help any future investigations.
  • However since 2014 several videos of a sexual nature have been released on the internet; the latest occurring on March 11 and 14, 2016.
  • One video released on YouTube on March 11 allegedly showing an opposition party leader, caused a stir in Georgia and generated significant public backlash.
  • About 135 people watched the footage online before law enforcers contacted YouTube administration and blocked the video, reported local media.
  • On March 14 another video similar in content appeared on Youtube but it was immediately blocked. 
  • On March 15 the Chief Prosecutor’s 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 the leak of the two videos.

The Georgian Government said the leak of the videos was an "attack on  the Government” while opposition UNM accused the current leadership of spreading the videos. 

Meanwhile, leader of opposition party Free Democrats Irakli Alasania said the founder of the currently ruling Georgian Dream coalition, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, was responsible for the illegalities.