Human Rights Centre Held a Press Conference Regarding the Case of Illegal Eavesdropping of Lawyers

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On May 23, in the conference room of Tbilisi Human Rights House, HRC held a press conference together with defense counsels whose cause HRC is pleading.  Mikheil Ramishvili, Mia Zoidze and Giorgi Pantsulaia have been declared victims in the criminal case following the petition by HRC, however the investigation proved to be inefficient. The aggrieved lawyers Mikheil Ramishvili, Giorgi Pantsulaia and Mia Zoidze attended the press conference. 

HRC insists that the State ensures effective and rapid investigation into the case of wiretapping/eavesdropping of phone communications on the part of the State Security Service (SSS).  At the same time, HRC demands the aggrieved persons to be updated about the progress of the investigation and copies of the case files to be given to them. Furthermore, due to the increased public interest, the Prosecutor’s Office must inform the public about the progress in the investigation. 

On September 13, 2021, various media outlets of Georgia released information about SSS exercising illegal eavesdropping of individuals.   The persons subject to secret surveillance included high ranking clericals of the Georgian Patriarchate, politicians, journalists, lawyers and others.  During this time, the public became aware that the disseminated recordings concerned lawyers Mikheil Ramishvili, Giorgi Pantsulaia and Mia Zoidze. 

The files/reports released on September 13, 2021, carrying data on personal communications and private life once again proofs that SSS carries on a total, over the edge and unlawful eavesdropping on a day-to-day basis.   If we take into account the volume, scale and substance of the released files, we can clearly see a systemic crime of intrusion into the sanctity of private life on the part of SSS and this obliges the State to investigate the offense in the first place.

Even today, the mentioned lawyers are facing the risk of their private lives being left without protection and even being publicized, while their professional activities being subject to interference.  After numerous public disseminations of the recordings of private conversations and private lives Georgian citizens have acquired a feeling of vulnerability of their rights to privacy. 

No particular case of covert surveillance and eavesdropping has been investigated in full and no results of the investigations have been made available to the public. Thus, no investigation has been conducted in a holistic way into the matters of unlawful eavesdropping. There is no single precedent of perpetrators held accountable despite the fact that the country had also in the past witnessed the unlawful dissemination of covert recordings.  

HRC intends to approach the European Court of Human Rights and request the Court to establish the fact of the intrusion into privacy.

Human Rights Center