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More people charged in Georgia sex tape scandal

by | Mar 16, 2016

adjara_prosecutor_officeTBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office Saturday evening arrested two persons for illegally storing and spreading videos depicting individuals in intimate settings.

The office said that apart from the two who were arrested Saturday – Zurab Jamalashvili and lawyer Irakli Pkhaladze – three more persons are charged.

Gela Ghurtskaia was arrested in February, while Nikoloz Khachapuridze, a former employee of the Constitutional Security Department, was also already in detention on other charges. A fifth person, Irma Chaotiani, is cooperating with investigators and not in detention.

December 26, someone brought tapes to the office of Eliso Kiladze, editor of Kronika Plus. The tapes contained videos showing several people in private situations.

Prosecutor Koka Katsitadze said at a briefing on Tuesday that Gela Ghurtskaia was arrested on February 3, 2016. During a search of his house, police seized memory chips which contained videos.

The Prosecutor General’s Office determined the origins of the tapes and a group of people suspected of obtaining and spreading these videos.

“The investigation carried out on this case revealed that on December 26, 2015, Gela Ghurtskaia, while at the office of Kronika media holding presented Eliso Kiladze, director of the same organization, with an illegal video recording depicting private and family secret of another individual for the purpose of releasing it through the media. On February 3, 2016, Gela Ghurtskaia was arrested based on the court ruling. As a result of a search of the latter’s apartment, the investigation discovered a memory card, which contained video recordings depicting private and family secrets of other individuals.

The investigation also established that Zurab Jamalashvili, who provided the lawyer Irakli Pkhaladze with the video recordings, has a son, Vasil Jamalashvili, who from July 18, 2012 to October 15, 2012 served as deputy head of the 4th Unit of the Operative-Technical Department under the Constitutional Security Department.

As of Tuesday, a criminal prosecution was underway against the following individuals: Gela Ghurtskaia, Nikoloz Khachapuridze, Inga Chatoiani, and Irakli Pkhaladze. Those individuals are being prosecuted for committing a crime punishable under Article 157 §3 (a) of the Criminal Code, which may be punished with up to 5 years in prison. On March 14, 2016, Zurab Jamalashvili was arrested in the capacity as defendant for committing a crime punishable under Article 157 §1 of the Criminal Code.

At the same time, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor is proceeding with the investigation into the release of video materials depicting private and family secrets on March 11 and 14, with the purpose of identifying and arresting the perpetrators. A special investigation team has been created at the Office of the Chief Prosecutor on this case, in participation of the officials from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Security Service. Since the start of the investigation, necessary investigative actions were and are being continuously conducted.

In particular, based on the motions filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office, the court issued a number of rulings based on which the requests for legal assistance were sent to the competent authorities in the United States. In order to establish the state from where the video material was uploaded to the Internet and to identify the Internet users linked to the crime, information on IP addresses were requested from the servers of Youtube, Facebook and Google. The request for legal assistance sent by Georgia also covers the identification of the person who created the Facebook account in the name of the politician; the same account which was used to send the web links of the video recordings to journalist and other persons.”

The Prosecutor General’s Office is also investigating the publishing of sex tapes depicting two politicians on March 11 and March 14 and working to identify the people who released them.

Georgian law enforcement bodies asked U.S. investigative bodies to assist them in determining the IP addresses from the servers of Youtube, Facebook and Google and help to find country from where the videos were uploaded to the Internet.

Georgian law enforcers also want to find out who created Facebook page with the name of the politician, which was used to send the sex videos to journalists and others.

The Prosecutor General’s Office reached Youtube’s central branch to help salvage the IP information and prevent it from being deleted together with the video.

Irakli Pkhaladze’s lawyer, Nana Pilauri, said that she has just received the case documents and cannot address any details yet.

Giorgi Popkhadze, a lawyer representing Jamalashvili, told DFWatch that his client denies having illegal tapes and pleads not guilty.

He also said that he just received the case documents and he doesn’t know the details.

“[The suspect] had a private business and you can rule out that he had any connection with the illegal tapes. I don’t know what evidence they had to arrest him. He has not been connected with the previous government, he just knew lawyer Irakli Popkhadze. In the 1980s both were members of the guard,” the lawyer said.

The son of Zurab Jamalashvili, former CSD employee and well-known hacker Vasil Jamalashvili, says that his father has another family and they never had close relation with them and he doesn’t know any more details. He has not yet been questioned by law enforcement bodies.

Vasil Jamalashvili used to be a Kudi employee during the National Movement government. He created a computer virus which could be used to break into computers, collect information and record conversations. Jamalashvili was also charged with exceeding powers. He was released on 3,000 laris bail.

“I don’t have any connection with this case. If we look at the old cases, I was charged because of the virus program and had no relation with those tapes,” Vasil Jamalashvili said.



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