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Bihus.Info team says they were followed by Security Service of Ukraine

The operation was organised by the department for the protection of national statehood.

Bihus.Info team says they were followed by Security Service of Ukraine
Denys Bihus
Photo: Screengrab

The Bihus.Info team has said that they were being followed by the Security Service of Ukraine.

According to the project's website, investigators managed to identify those who carried out the operation to install hidden cameras in the hotel rooms where the editorial team was staying on 27 December 2023.

"The operation was carried out by the SBU's department of national statehood protection (DNSP). Judging by the video, the SBU's department of operational and technical support was probably involved in the installation of the equipment. Roman Semenchenko, the recently dismissed head of the SBU's DNSP, did not deny his and the department's involvement in the operation in a conversation with Bihus.Info," the investigative journalists noted.

According to Bihus.Info, the special service's operation lasted six days in total.

During the investigation, the journalists identified Ihor Kravchenko as one of the SBU officers. "Among the phone tags of his permanent number, there are also many DNSP and M marks, which indicates that he is part of the department for the protection of national statehood. During the preliminary reconnaissance, Ihor Kravchenko and his team also recorded the location of cameras on the territory and inspected various entrances," the Bihus.Info team noted.

In a written commentary, the SBU, according to them, "ignored the question of whether court orders were obtained to install hidden equipment in the bedrooms. And also how the materials of telephone tapping and video from hidden cameras in the bedrooms ended up on dump websites".

The special service explained that on 17 January this year, they inspected the complex and found no signs of covert equipment. On that day, the SBU came to the complex to seize a server containing evidence of those who had installed the hidden cameras.

"The SBU also did not clearly answer the question of whether there were any ongoing criminal proceedings against any of the former or current members of the editorial team. They only mentioned a certain criminal case of the National Police under Article 307 of the Criminal Code, which "involved one of the Bihus.Info operators". However, the SBU did not indicate its role in this proceeding, nor the date of its opening and closing, nor the number," the investigators said, adding that some of the previously published phone conversations, according to the recorded persons, took place more than a year ago. Therefore, the published records indicate that the phones of more than one person were tapped.

The dismissed head of the department for the protection of national statehood, Roman Semenchenko, in a conversation with Bihus.Info, did not deny his participation or that of the department in the wiretapping, but recommended that the head of the SBU or the press centre should be contacted for comments.

The SBU later stated that it had been monitoring one of Bihus.Info's operators, who "was involved in criminal proceedings regarding the illegal production, manufacture, acquisition, storage, transportation, shipment or sale of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their analogues".

"At the same time, the Security Service of Ukraine opened criminal proceedings under Article 359 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (illegal acquisition, sale or use of special technical means of obtaining information). Relevant procedural actions are being taken," the special service added.

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