Bihus.info not listed as the victim in the surveillance case
Employees of the investigative journalism project "Bihus.info" were not listed as victims in the illegal wiretapping and video surveillance case opened by the SBU.
Bihus.info journalist Anastasia Usenko spoke about this on UP TALK-SHOW.
She noted that at the moment the editors could clearly say who was spying on the team on December 27: a law enforcement body or a private company.
"This can hardly be called cooperation. What is happening on the the SBU's side? They have registered a case under Article 359 (illegal installation of listening devices), and as far as I know, we were not listed as victims in this case. Accordingly, we have no access to the case files. The other day, the SBU searched the hotel complex and seized the server on which the video footage was stored," Anastasia said.
According to her, she and a colleague of hers came to the hotel during the search to get copies of the footage from that server, but the investigator declined and told them to file a statement with the management. The journalist reported that the project's lawyers have written such a statement, but are yet to receive a reply.
As the IMI reported, on January 16, the head of the Bihus.Info project, Denys Bihus, recorded a statement in response to a provocative video shared on YouTube by the website "Narodna Pravda", wherein his employees negotiate the purchase of drugs and use them, and reported unlawful surveillance and wiretapping. He also announced staff changes.
The phones of the Bihus.Info team were wiretapped for several months, according to Denys Bihus's second video address. He says that the leaked phone conversation recordings point to this. These conversations happened some time apart.
The director of the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Romaniuk, demands that the authorities address systematic pressure on journalists. She said this while commenting on the pressure on journalist Yuriy Nikolov, whose apartment suffered a break-in attempt by unknown men, and the Bihus.Info team.
On January 17, the Media Movement called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to resolutely condemn the pressure campaign on independent journalists and investigators and ensure that the crimes against the media are properly investigated.
On January 17, the Security Service of Ukraine opened a case over unlawful wiretapping and video surveillance of Bihus.Info employees. On the same day, SBU officers searched at the suburban complex where the Bihus.Info team members were illegally recorded on video. The law enforcers confiscated the hard drives with CCTV footage.
On January 18, 2024, it was reported that the Kyiv Oblast National Police HQ had opened a pre-trial investigation into the violation of privacy following a statement by Bihus.Info journalist Maria Zemlyanska.
The team performed their own investigation, and Denys Bihus reported that at least 30 people were involved in the surveillance operation targeting the Bihus.info team. The surveillance cameras were installed in the rooms where the project's employees, mostly women, stayed. Other guests at the hotel were also under unauthorized surveillance.
On January 19, 2024, "Narodna Pravda" – the media outlet that on January 16 posted the video featuring footage from the hidden cameras and audio from the Bihus.Info team's wiretapped phones – took down the news from their website. The video is no longer available on their YouTube channel, either.
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