Ukraine opens criminal probe into whether Marie Yovanovitch was under illegal surveillance

Brendan Morrow

Ukraine is set to investigate allegations former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch may have been under illegal surveillance.

Ukraine's interior ministry announced the opening of this criminal probe following new evidence obtained by Congress this week, ABC News reports.

The possibility that Yovanovitch was under illegal surveillance came to light after the release of a series of text messages between Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Hyde, a Republican politician running for a House seat in Connecticut. Hyde suggests he has people in Kyiv surveilling Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He writes to Parnas, "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price." Yovanovitch was ultimately pushed out of her position after a smear campaign against her that Parnas was involved in.

"This certainly makes it sound like Parnas and co. were actively tracking Yovanovitch's movements," Politico's Natasha Bertrand wrote.

"The published records contain the fact of possible violation of the legislation of Ukraine and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects the rights of a diplomat in the territory of another country," Ukraine's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Following the release of the texts, Yovanovitch's lawyer in a statement said the "notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing," adding, "we trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation." In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Parnas claimed he didn't believe Yovanovitch truly was under surveillance because Hyde was constantly "drunk."

The State Department has yet to comment, meaning, as NBC News' Josh Lederman points out, Ukraine "has reacted publicly to alleged monitoring of a senior U.S. diplomat before the U.S. government."

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