GD, Gakharia’s For Georgia Trade Accusations over Security Service Leak

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili suggested today that his predecessor Giorgi Gakharia and his affiliates might be involved in the State Security Service (SSG) leak, prompting retaliatory remarks from the ex-PM’s For Georgia party.

PM Garibashvili stated today the investigation would consider any version of the events, including if Gakharia or Aleksandre Khojevanishvili, Deputy SSG head during the former’s premiership, were involved in the leak. Aleksandre’s brother, Giorgi Khojevanishvili is currently a member of Gakharia’s For Georgia party.

“They [Gakharia and Khojevanishvili] had access, of course, to a great deal of information, including to surveillance agency,” PM Garibashvili said, while also noting that he does not want to “speculate” and everyone should wait for the results of the probe. 

For Georgia MP Mikheil Daushvili said the Georgian Dream “is looking for a scapegoat in their main rival.” He accused the ruling party leadership of “acting irresponsibly” by “making direct indications” while the investigation is ongoing.

“It seems that the priority for the ruling party today is to maintain power, therefore we do not rule out anything,” said another For Georgia MP, Beka Liluashvili, responding to a reporter’s questions on potential indictment of Khojevanishvili.

For Georgia party demanded today to establish a parliamentary investigation commission to probe into the alleged wiretappings, and called for the involvement of the Public Defender and international experts in the ongoing investigation.

Gakharia, on his part, denied having knowledge during his premiership of the “scale” of the supposed surveillance on foreign diplomats, journalists, teachers and the clergy, talking with Formula TV host Giorgi Targamadze on September 15. Albeit noting he was receiving briefs from the SSG “about internal and external security” in the country, Gakharia also denied that SSG Head Grigol Liluashvili may have informed him on the extent on the alleged surveillance.

Giorgi Gakharia served as the Prime Minister from September 2019 to February 2021, while Khojevanishvili held his post at the SSG from January 2019 to March 2021, resigning soon after the former’s departure.

Current head of the SSG, Grigol Liluashvili served as the acting chief of Georgia’s intelligence agency since January 2019 and was then appointed to the post in October 2019.

Over 3,000 documents, allegedly files of the State Security Service were leaked online, and their link was also sent to Georgian journalists. The files are no longer accessible, but new details keep emerging from the numerous briefs.

The files, albeit being largely focused on the Orthodox clergy, described conversations of Georgian journalists, civil society, opposition politicians, civil servants and foreign diplomats as well.

Not all of the files have been accurately dated, but most are supposed to have been made during the Georgian Dream administration. Some of the files, including those describing the conversations of EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell and Israeli Ambassador Ran Gidor are dated October and December 2020, respectively.

This article was updated at 12:16, September 16. Giorgi Gakharia’s subsequent remarks were added.

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