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Bihus says he is unsure how to verify the person who ordered the surveillance of his team

27.02.2024, 10:51

Denys Bihus, photo by Ukrainian Pravda

The Bihus.Info team is not yet sure how they can verify the information they have received from various sources regarding the person who ordered the surveillance over them.

Denys Bihus spoke about this in his interview with the UP.

"I have yet to figure out how I can verify what I people are telling me. In this context, I can't imagine how I can make sure that it was person A or person B. I can only guess that it's the Office (of the President. – Ed.), as suggested by body of testimonies that all ultimately boil down to this. But I honestly said in our film that I have no evidence. And it's unlikely that any will emerge," Bihus said.

He also said that their office had been wiretapped about five years ago. However, the journalist mentioned no specific names or ranks.

"You know this specific job to be a connector between politicians, PR people, this whole nonsense – and about five years ago, they tried to sell someone the recordings from wiretapping our office for a certain time. No one was foolish enough to buy them. So we don't know when exactly they were recording us and for how long," said the investigator.

How it started

On January 16, 2024, 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.

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, 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 National Police is investigating four cases related to surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists.

The team performed their own investigation, and Denys Bihus reported that at least 30 people were involved in the surveillance operation targeting the 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.

In response, the SBU stated that they were investigating cases on drug trafficking and the illegal use of surveillance equipment. "According to the information available to the SBU, some Bihus.Info team members, unfortunately, were also clients to drug dealers supplying narcotic substances to other citizens," the special service noted.

On February 13, it was reported that the State Bureau of Investigation had opened a case under Part 3 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – any form of influence on a journalist aimed at preventing them from fulfilling their professional duties and committed through abuse of office.

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