Ukraine opens investigation into possible illegal surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch

Jan. 16 (UPI) — Ukrainian officials said Thursday they have opened an investigation into the possible surveillance of former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she worked in the country.

The country’s interior ministry said newly surfaced text messages between associates of President Donald Trump‘s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested Yovanovitch may have been illegally followed.

Yovanovitch had complained there was a campaign to get rid her as ambassador before she was removed by Trump in May 2019. Republican Congressional candidate Robert Hyde, a Florida entrepreneur, suggested in one of those text messages last March he had people keeping tabs on Yovanovitch’s movements in Ukraine.

That information, released by Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, has become part of the Democrats’ impeachment efforts against Trump.

“Ukraine’s position is not to interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States of America,” a Ukrainian statement said. “However, the published records contain the fact of a possible violation of the legislation of Ukraine and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects the rights of a diplomat in the territory of another country.

“After analyzing these materials, the National Police of Ukraine upon their publication started criminal proceedings under part 2 of Art. 163 (Violation of the secrecy of correspondence, telephone conversations, telegraph or other correspondence) and part 1 of Art. 182 (Unlawful collection, storage, use of confidential information about a person, violation of privacy) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine,” it said.

Hyde did not deny the exchange, but did deny the spying charges, saying he was joking with Parnas.

Democrats said Giuliani and Parnas were part of a pressure campaign to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter Biden. They claim Yovanovitch’s removal was part of that effort.