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U.S. Embassy on Covert Recordings Probe

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said on March 12 that the investigation into the covert recordings released by TV Pirveli must prioritize “the right of journalists to safeguard their sources,” following the Court order greenlighting the prosecution to retrieve evidence from the television channel.

“Both secret recordings and threats or intimidation are illegal, reprehensible, and should be investigated in accordance with the law,” the Embassy stressed, referring to the tapes that implicate current Special State Protection Service Head Anzor Chubinidze, as well as current PM Irakli Garibashvili in being tasked by rapper Bera Ivanishvili, the son of Georgian Dream founder, to humiliate and punish youngsters for insulting online posts.

The statement said that the legal system must function fairly and impartially and “must not be misused to achieve political ends through selective prosecution.”

The U.S. Embassy added that it is watching closely the ongoing developments at TV Pirveli and urges all involved to approach the matter professionally and with restraint.

Background

Yesterday’s Court decision to allow the Prosecutor’s Office to seize the “electronic carrier device” on which the channel received the recordings was met with public outcry. CSOs, as well as the Public Defender, argued the decision violated the journalists’ privilege to protect their sources.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office reassured that despite the Court’s approval, it does not intend to seize the material by force. The prosecution added that TV Pirveli has the right not to submit the requested evidence.

The Prosecutor’s Office on March 9 launched a probe into the legality of obtaining and disseminating the covert tapes, however not into the authenticity of its contents.

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