An individual claiming to have worked at the State Security Service, Georgia’s domestic intelligence agency, has released publicly numerous files containing information allegedly gathered on senior clergymen through spying.
The text accompanying the dozens of documents says “we are eavesdropping to you all, we gather information and compromising materials about you.” Some of the documents published are supposedly briefs, reports and dossiers prepared for the Security Service’s Analytical Department.
Footage of the leaked documents aired by Georgian media outlets showed written details of clergymen’s supposed business activities, intimate relationships, sexual orientation or past activities, including alleged illegal drug use.
Some directory titles of the documents are evidently named “criminal [acts] and narcotics addiction,” “threats,” “lovers,” “bishops,” “situation at protestant churches.”
The veracity of the documents remains unconfirmed. It is also unknown who was behind the leak. Civil.ge has reached out to the State Security Service for a comment on the development.
The leak comes some month after Nika Gvaramia, director of Mtavari Arkhi TV, channel critical to the Georgian Dream government” aired alleged memos of the SSG that involved spying on clergy, businessmen, civil society leaders and government administration officials.
Opposition politicians, Khatuna Gogorishvili of the European Georgia and Mamuka Khazaradze of Lelo, have confirmed the veracity of their conversations with the clergy described in the leaked documents. Gogorishvili said the leak was orchestrated by the Georgian Dream to “strangle” the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate and coerce them into their support in the October 2 local polls.
MP Khazaradze said his conversation with an archbishop was recorded “in an exact manner” in the leaked documents, dating the discussion to late 2018 or early 2019.
Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, MP Irakli Kobakhidze dubbed the coverage of the leak by “United National Movement-affiliated media outlets” as “anti-state activity” aimed at “discrediting the church.”
Public Defender, Nino Lomjaria decried the capacity of the State Security Service to “illegally” interfere with private lives, and underlined the lack of effective control mechanisms.
“This should not be happening in a democratic country,” she stressed, adding that “this is a gross violation of human rights that needs to be addressed.”
The State Inspector’s Service, a body that monitors personal data processing and probes into abuse of power, called for an investigation of all suspected surveillance сases in order to verify the authenticity of the leaked files, and if confirmed, “identify and convict all persons involved in illegal spying.”
This article was updated at 20:02.