Simon Kiladze was the first who was tried by the state power for espionage and treason in 2006. Chief Advisor of Massedia and Public Relations Service of the President’s Office was accused in cooperation with foreign intelligence. Today Simon Kiladze claims for his complete rehabilitation and removal of Griffith “Secret” from his case. “Georgia and World” speaks with Simon Kiladze – participant of this spy scandal.
– Mr. Simon, you do not recognize yourself guilty and request for a full rehabilitation. What do you think was a real reason for your arrest?
– None of the documents or information containing state secrets were available to me. My main task was to review and analyze both Georgian and foreign press sources, which were further forwarded to different structures, directly to the President. I was informed only about the President’s visits, which was then used against me, as if I disclosed the information about these visits. This is fully nonplete nonsense, since it has already been a public information and freely available to all journalists.
Georgian newspapers were publishing both positive and negative articles about the government. Therefore, my materials contained criticism of the government, which were not acceptable to them. In addition, I had a rather critical attitude towards the government and the processes which have been taking place in the highest governmental structures and, these my views were not a secret. By the way, they have warned me several times that I would not be talking about this. There was another reason too: I was cooperating with the -U.S. Embassy, preparing for them the reviews of the massmedia materials. Also,I had contacts with one of the research centers of Czech Republic, whom I was providing analytical materials regarding the publications of the Georgian Press. Of course, the government did not like my such work, since all the critical and negative information, which were published in the press about the government, was becoming known abroad. After my arrest, they even told me, that I dared myself to prepare such a critical materials about the State Power.
In 2005, I accompanied Mikheil Saakashvili in his official visit to Russia, namely in Kazan, where we met with local Georgians. President promised them to pay attention to their stay, that he will send people for their patronage. Later on, I was sent to Kazan, Bashkir Republic, Ufa with the official visit. It was not a secret trip, I was invited by the Embassy of the Russian Federation, but this even a quite safe fact was used against me. In that times we had not so tensioned relations with Russia and, if they could not directly announce me as a spy because it would have had severe reactions from Russia.
I think the main reason for my arrest was the fact that I was critical towards the government, so I was not their favorable person working in the governmental office. I had gone through all the testing and the competitions successfully, so they had no official reason to fire me directly from the job and, since they had no ways to act directly in this way against me. But then, some important events happened – murdering Sandro Girgvliani, the prison riot. The government urgently needed the cover these events, for which they used me.
– You were arrested on the grounds of a very serious accusation. What they did wanted from you?
– They wanted me recognize cooperation with foreign intelligence services They even prepared a text of such recognition and had multiple attempts of forcing me to sign it.
-, They accused you in the espionage, but it has not been mentioned in particular which country’s spy you were.
– Yes, it was not indicated in the verdict. This is a clear evidence of how absurd my case was. I still do not know which country’s spy I was. In that times they could commit any illegality they wished. My case was just invented by them. It is enough to look at the “photographers case” and, you’ll understand how the government was dealing with the people who were not their supporters.
– But finally you have acknowledged yourself guilty. Why?
– When people get into the prison, nobody knows how to behave. I tried to stand firm, protested unsubstantiated accusations, but. . . They were doing what they wanted, they invented evidences and asked me to sign the confession. Chief of the counter-intelligence service Shalva Zhgenti requested me to recognize guilty, otherwise, as he told me, I would never be released from the prison. Sometimes a psychological pressure is worse than a physical one. They threatened to arrest my family members. During one of the they have shown me the videorecord of how they watched at my children This was very painful for me. After a deep thinking and sleepless nights I decided to sign on the testimony. My lawyer also advised me to do so and leave the prison through this way. He told me that in any case, nobody believes that I am a spy.
– What could happen in case of you refusal to sign?
– I was told that the Georgian state power has a full-range support of the international community, therefore, the foreign partners will consider legal and fair any our decision, so we will do our best to catch you in the prison forever. In private conversations with me, all – prison officers, prosecutors, investigators did not hide: we know that you are not guilty, but we have the instruction from “upper”, therefore, you must recognize yourself guilty.
I do not know even a single country where in a few minutes after arresting a man, both the Interior Minister and the Chief of the Counter-intelligence, unanimously declared him guilty without any investigation. Pesumption of innocence is violated. After that, any normal court of any normal state could release me. The former head of the President’s Office administration was George Arveladze, who came out and blamed me directly that I was the agent working in the Office.
Moreover, Vano Merabishvili declared that I, Simon Kiladze received 20 thousand GEL from the U.S. embassy. First of all, this amount is overstated. If calculate, a total amount that I have received from the US Embassy during 2-year period, amounts to 10-12 thousand GEL Can anybody imagine a spy who serves for such a low remuneration? It is illogical. In addition, the US Embassy was transferring the sums officially, to my bank account. Do you know a spy to whom the salary is transferred to the bank account?
– Why the U.S. Embassy have not had a sharp reaction?
– It was the period when Georgia was called “the light of democracy”, when George Bush paid a visit to Georgia, and, the government was given a card-blanch to do everything it wished. So many people were killed, but West has shown no reaction. So, why could they have any reaction to my case?
– Despite accusation in the espionage, you were released soon. What was a precondition of your release from jail?
– All prisoners knew well that I was arrested arbitrarily and that told me that neither President nor the Interior Minister did not deny their statements and publicly apologize to me, so, as they told me in the prison it would be better to me to stay there for a certain period and wait. Also, I was asked that after releasing from prison to abstain myself from public statements. However, despite the fact that I had a suspended sentence, I attended on all the opposition meetings and criticized the government. They called me by phone once or twice and recommended to terminate such actions.
– Now you request for a full legal rehabilitation. Are you going to file a complaint against the perpetrators?
-, I submitted the application to the Prosecutor’s Office, but, of course, I understand that nobody will arrest Vano Merabishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili because of my case, but for me this is not essential. It would be nice if they come out and admit their guilt, they must even be quiet and not to make political statements like those made now by Merabishvili. It is now important to re-examine my case as well as the cases of other political prisoners and achieve at a full rehabilitation
Now the most important is if the legislative body makes changes in the law on procedural deal, because the law says that we do not have the right to appeal. “Nationals” have foreseen All this and deprive us of the right even to appeal against unjust.
I want to remove the griffith “Secret” from my case, to carry out investigation and to achieve at mu complete rehabilitation, however, for this it seems is necessary to fire from offices the judges and the investigators of Saakashvili’s regime because none of them will recognize themselves their fault and wil not issue another verdict
First of all, it is essential to restore justice. Guilty should be punished and then we may talk about reconciliation.
– What is the people’s attitude towards the “former spy” and how do you live today?
– Despite the fact that that the pro-governmental TVs actively argued for my espionage, their attitude is not changed, because they knew that I was not a spy. I renewed my research work after release from prison. I am a lecturer and research center’s officer of Georgian – American University. So, we can say, my social rehabilitation has already happened, but I would like to be rehabilitated on behalf of Georgia, because they announced me as a criminal on behalf of Georgia
Interviewed by Shorena Tsivkarashvili