Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said in a written statement on January 15 that video footage made public by the Prosecutor’s Office in the case of Military Police gay ‘honey traps’, do not provide persons on the videos with “complete protection” from being identified.
Prosecutor’s Office said on January 14 that the previous leadership of the Military Police, which is under the Defense Ministry’s subordination, made dozens of secret video recordings of “publicly well-known” men having gay sex and used those videotapes to blackmail them. Prosecutor’s office also released several recordings in which bodies of persons on the footages were blurred to conceal their identities; the recordings were aired by several television stations; Rustavi 2 TV aired only part of the recordings on January 14 saying that there was a risk that persons might be identified in some parts of the footage. Release of the footage was condemned by gay rights groups.
The Public Defender said in his statement: “Although in released video recordings measures for concealing [persons’ identities] are used, these measures, because of their quality, do not provide filmed persons with complete protection from being identified. In the footage it is possible to detect such identification futures of a person like body build, hair color and clothing, which may make it possible for certain part of the society to identify persons [on the footage].”
Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said on January 15, that his office decided to make public the recordings because on the one hand they did not allow identifying persons shown in the footages and on the other hand to show that illegal gathering of information about private lives of individuals was of “systematic” nature under the previous authorities.
The Public Defender said in his statement that while there might be high public interest towards criminal cases of such kind, meeting of this interest should in no way come at the expense of violating right to privacy.
“The Public Defender calls on the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office and media outlets to be careful in the future while disseminating information which may harm a person’s private life,” the Public Defender said.