TBILISI -- Twelve Georgian Interior Ministry officials have been charged with abuse of office.
Georgian Prosecutor-General Archil Kbilashvili told journalists that the officials detained on November 15 are suspected of illegally wiretapping leading Georgian politicians, including billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili before he became prime minister.
According to Kbilashvili, the 12 were also involved in the abduction of an Ivanishvili bodyguard, who was later allegedly blackmailed and forced to speak out against Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition.
Kbilashvili added that the detained group are also suspected of involvement in the illegal destruction of electronic equipment belonging to Ivanishvili's company.
Ivanishvili's coalition defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement party in October parliamentary elections.
Last week, investigations were launched against Georgia’s former interior minister, the armed forces chief of staff, and a Georgian Army brigade commander.