Previous leadership of the Military Police, which is under the Defense Ministry’s subordination, made dozens of secret video recordings of “publicly well-known” men having gay sex and used those videotapes to blackmail them, the Prosecutor’s Office said on January 14.
“In the course of the investigation it has been established that upon instructions from former head of the Military Police Department, Megis Kardava, senior officials of this department were gathering information about sexual minority men, secretly and illegally filming their private lives,” Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that threatening to make these videos public, the Military Police was coercing these men into cooperation.
It said that these agents, recruited by the Military Police through illegal means, were then instructed to engage in sexual relation with “publicly well-known” men with “the latter not knowing about conspiracy against them”.
“Agents were taking them in flats, which were rented with state funds allocated for [special services’] operative purposes, and which were equipped with covert video and audio surveillance devices,” Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that so far three such flats have been located by investigators.
“In order to prevent making of these video footages public, under the blackmail, victims of the conspiracy were agreeing to publicly voice their support to the political regime and to participate in various events aimed at popularization of the previous authorities,” Prosecutor’s Office said. “Compromising videos were also used for the purpose of money extortion.”
“Prosecutor’s Office has obtained several of these illegal recordings, but the investigation possesses information about existence of several dozen of such compromising videos,” said Prosecutor’s Office, which also released several recordings in which bodies of persons on footages were blurred to conceal their identities.
Prosecutor’s Office said that three “high-ranking officials” from the Military Police, who were not identified, had been charged with abuse of power in to this case; the court released them on GEL 20,000 bail each pending investigation, according to Prosecutor’s Office.
This announcement by Prosecutor’s Office came two days after President Saakashvili said on January 12 that the new government was “attacking” judiciary and local self-governance in the provinces with use of “unimaginably dirty methods”.
“Of course we had special services which were carrying out operations against foreign [agents], but there was a very strict condition – not to touch in any way a private life of a person. You know that there has never been a case of releasing compromising materials of private life,” Saakashvili said and added that recently a head of one of the provincial districts was forced by the police to resign after threatening him “to reveal to his son that he was adopted.” Saakashvili also said that a female assistant of one of the judges in Tbilisi was secretly filmed having sex with her boyfriend and then blackmailed to cooperate with the security services otherwise threatened to make the recording public.
“These dirty [methods] were strictly banned under my government,” Saakashvili said.
Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said on January 15 that the case which was investigated by his office demonstrated that ‘honey trap’ practice and illegal gathering of information about private lives of individuals was of “systematic nature” under the previous authorities.
He also said the investigation revealed that under the previous authorities large amount of information about private lives of “more or less well-known” public figures were gathered by the security services.
Kbilashvili said that investigation was launched after one of the victims reported to the prosecutor’s office about being blackmailed “to pay money otherwise was threatened to make these videos public.”
Irakli Alasania, new defense minister, said late last year that under the previous government the Military Police was engaged in illegal practice of information gathering through secret surveillance. He also said at the time that surveillance equipment under the possession of the Military Police would be transferred to the Interior Ministry and cases of illegal surveillance were referred for further investigation to the Prosecutor’s Office.