TBILISI, DFWatch — The former owner of a telecommunication company claims that the company was under serious pressure, because he refused to install listening devices.
Caucasus Online is one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Georgia. Its former owner, Mamia Sanadiradze, said that he was compelled to alienate the company.
Now, after a change of government, Mamia Sanadiradze says that the company’s problems began after they said no to the former government when asked to install listening devices.
“Our cables were deliberately cut very often. Our security services identified offenders several times. They were employees of Silkneti [another telecommunication company, ed.] or Tbilisi Municipality. They had the maps of our company’s cables, probably stolen or purchased. Every time we called the police, they took the offenders and then released them.”
Mamia Sanadiradze says that they have video materials proving these cases.
The constitutional court recently agreed with a suit by Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association against the Georgian parliament, and concluded that one of the norms in law that gave an opportunity to observe private internet relationships, violates privacy.
Transparency International Georgia (TIG) calls on the new government to investigate cases of illegal eavesdropping. They think that every telecommunication operator should make public information they have about illegal eavesdropping.
The new Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili promises that illegal eavesdropping will be stopped.
“My team and I are ready to stop every illegality,” said Gharibashvili.
Mamia Sanadiradze talks about his reasons for selling Caucasus Online. He says the tax inspection fined the company with GEL 11 million because of low tariffs on internet. After this ministries and other governmental agencies refused to be Caucasus Online’s users.
Mamia Sanadiradze was not able to pay the fine and he sold the company.
Now, after the government has changed, he founded a non-governmental organization called Georgian Business, which aims to return illegally confiscated property to the owners and defend the rights of business in Georgia.
The lawyer of the organization, Zviad Gelashvili, says that every case will be investigated individually and the organization will take these cases to the prosecutor’s office.
Sanadiradze considers himself one of the business leaders whose rights were violated, but he’s not going to fight to get back Caucasus Online.
Caucasus Online’s current owners have not commented Sanadiradze’s statements.