Spying on Bihus.Info journalists: Prosecutor General's Office announces launch of another investigation

Stock photo: BIHUS.INFO
Stock photo: BIHUS.INFO

Another investigation has been launched into the illegal collection of information about representatives of the Bihus.Info investigative outlet, this time regarding obstruction of the professional activities of journalists.

Source: press service of the Prosecutor General's Office on social media and in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda

Quote: "The Office of the Prosecutor General provides procedural guidance in the criminal case on violations of privacy and the use of special technical devices for obtaining information."

Details: It is noted that during the pre-trial investigation, facts were established that may indicate obstruction of the legitimate professional activities of journalists. Illegal collection of information about journalists of the Bihus.Info investigative outlet was carried out on the territory of the ethnographic complex. The data could have been used to apply more pressure on them.

In this regard, information was registered in the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations and a pre-trial investigation was initiated under Part 3 of Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (influence in any form on a journalist in order to impede the performance of his/her professional duties committed by an official using his/her official position).

Procedural and investigative actions are currently being taken to identify the persons involved in the crime.

The pre-trial investigation is being conducted by the Main Investigation Department of the State Bureau of Investigation.

This is the third case opened by law enforcement agencies regarding bugging and surveillance of Bihus.Info staff members. At the same time, as the press service of the Office of the Prosecutor General clarified to Ukrainska Pravda, the cases that were transferred to the State Bureau of Investigation from the Security Service of Ukraine (under Article 359 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and the National Police (as eight employees of the outlet pointed out, under Article 182 of the Criminal Code – ed.) were merged. The feasibility of merging the current case will be decided in the near future.

Background:

  • On 16 January, a video was leaked online showing employees of the Bihus.Info investigative outlet supposedly using drugs. Denys Bihus, the director of Bihus.Info, released a video message, apologised and promised that all his associates would undergo drug tests. Bihus.Info says that its staff members had been bugged and followed for a minimum of several months. They conducted their own investigation.

  • On 5 January, Bihus.Info published an investigation, stating that they had identified those who had installed hidden cameras in hotel rooms to monitor the team. It was the Security Service of Ukraine.

  • The Security Service officially stated that the leadership had already made personnel decisions regarding the Department for the Protection of National Statehood because of the illegal surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists.

  • Vasyl Maliuk, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, officially commented on the surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists by the Department for the Protection of National Statehood and the dismissal of the head of this department.

  • MPs voted to summon Maliuk to the Verkhovna Rada with a report on the bugging of Bihus.Info.

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