A new US scandal surfaces as sources expose that the US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic cargo for a secret US military program.
Bulgarian journalist and Middle East correspondent Dilyana Gaytandzhieva revealed leaked internal documents, implicating US diplomats in the transportation of and experimenting on pathogens under diplomatic cover.
These documents show that Pentagon scientists have been deployed to the Republic of Georgia and have been given diplomatic immunity to research deadly diseases and biting insects at the Lugar Center – the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.
According to the report, which comes as part of a documentary that will be aired on Al-Mayadeen TV channel on the 20th of September, the secret facility is located just 17 km from the US Vaziani military airbase in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. This Pentagon biolaboratory is heavily guarded. All passers-by within a radius of 100 m are filmed although the military biolaboratory is located within a residential area.
Instead of investing in the health of its own citizens the US government has spent $161 million of US taxpayer money on the Lugar Center in Tbilisi for research on deadly diseases and biting insects abroad.
In her visit to the area and during her talks with people, she was being filmed by security forces. She said “The security guards warn me that if I do not comply, show my passport and leave this place, I will be arrested. My official request to the Lugar Center for access to the facility and for interviews has also been rejected.”
Dangerous chemicals secretly burned
Local residents from the Alexeevka neighbourhood, where the laboratory is located, complain that dangerous chemicals are being secretly burnt at night and that hazardous waste is being emptied into the nearby river through the laboratory’s pipes. Locals complain of constant headaches, nausea, high blood pressure and dizziness when chemicals are being burnt at night in the laboratory which is just a couple of hundred meters from their homes.
“There is a smoke – black, red, green at night or especially early in the morning at around 3, 4 a.m. Even the hens have died. They put a big pipe underground and connected it to the drains. This smell comes from there. It smells like rotten eggs and decaying hay. The smell is so bad and is spread in different directions by the wind”, says Eteri Gogitidze who lives in a block of flats next to the laboratory.
“I have a thyroid disease. There are families of three people in the neighborhood and all three of them have a thyroid disease. They say it is because of the laboratory”, explains Eteri Gogitidze from the Alexeevka Neighbourhood where the laboratory is located.
Mysterious death of center workers
Moreover, neighbours recall a tragic incident involving four Filipinos who worked at the Lugar Center. Two of the foreigners died of an alleged gas poisoning in their rented flat in block 44 of the Alexeevka Settlement.
“The first time when they called the Emergency service we were told that they had food poisoning from fish. But the second time when the ambulance came there was foam coming out of their mouths. They were shouting: “Help, Help!” When they passed away, they took them away and covered it all up. It all happened here”, Albert Nurbekyan shows the sealed off flat where the foreign scientists died.
The leaked documents!
The report uncovered internal documents and correspondence between the Ministry of Health of Georgia and the US Embassy to Tbilisi show what experiments have been conducted at the Lugar Center. Leaked documents reveal that the US Embassy to Tbilisi transports pathogens, as well as frozen human blood, as diplomatic cargo.
A letter from the Ministry of Health of Georgia to the US Embassy in Tbilisi exempts the importation from registration as the American diplomats claim the frozen human blood is needed for research purposes in connection with an American program on Hepatitis C in Georgia.
Diplomatic cargo shipments are exempt from inspection and taxes. According to instructions from The Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which oversees and funds the laboratories, biological material for the needs of the program must be shipped as hand-carrying items to the US embassies.
Other instructions to US personnel working under the military program prohibit the use of prostitutes, and any interaction with individuals who may reasonably be assumed to be working as prostitutes.
Romantic, intimate or sexual relations with local citizens or among team members are strongly discouraged as “foreign security services are known to use the enticement of such relations to exploit foreign officials”. As such, a relationship with foreign nationals must be reported to DTRA as soon as possible, the document reads.
Furthermore, the documents revealed that biologists from the US Army Medical Research Unit-Georgia (USAMRU-G) along with private American contractors and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) are tasked with the program at the Lugar Center. Certain zones of the laboratory are classified zones and are accessible only to American citizens with security clearance. They are accorded diplomatic immunity under the 2002 US-Georgia Agreement on defense cooperation.
Also, the documents showed that under a 3 year-long agreement between the Walter Reeds Army Institute and the Georgian National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the Pentagon has been given full access to the local collection of deadly bio agents in order to study them. These are agents which can cause Anthrax, Tularemia, Brucella and plague.
According to the agreement’s provisions, “international law is not applicable to this Agreement, the parties agree that no court, tribunal or international entity has jurisdiction or authority to consider or provide judgement in case of disputes arising between the parties of this agreement”.
Documents show a number of Pentagon projects involving insects as possible vectors of diseases in Georgia. In 2014 The Lugar Center was equipped with an insect facility and launched a project on Sand Flies in Georgia and the Caucasus. Since the start of the project on flies at the Lugar Center Georgia has been infested with sand flies. Local people complain of being bitten by these newly appeared flies while naked in their bathrooms.
The Pentagon scientists have also performed experiments involving tropical mosquitos and ticks in Georgia.
Georgians used as laboratory rabbits
E-mails also reveal another American project on Hepatitis C in Georgia including cases of death. The pilot study of the US Center for Disease Control in Georgia is called “Simplified Diagnostics and Monitoring of Hepatitis C Infected Patients in Rural Primary Care Settings Using Newly Approved Pan-Genotypic Antiviral Therapy”. It is designated as confidential information.
The Ministry of Health of Georgia has signed an Agreement with the US Center for Disease Control and the private American pharmaceutical company Gilead. According to this agreement, the American side provides free medicines for Hepatitis C treatment. In exchange, the private American company cannot be held accountable for any damage (intentional or not) which may result from the program. The agreement is signed by David Sergeenko from the Georgian side.
Georgians have been used as laboratory rabbits for a new Hepatitis C experimental treatment by the private American company along with the US
Center for Disease Control. Leaked confidential documents show at least 100 deaths reported to Gilead, over the last 3 years, of patients under treatment with the Gilead drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni which had been provided to them for free.
It is worth mentioning that this military facility is just one of the many Pentagon biolaboratories in 25 countries across the world. They are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program – Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.
It is also important to note that the Pentagon has spent at least $161 million on the Lugar Center in Tbilisi under a contract with the private American contractor – CH2M Hill. This is half of the total sum of $ 361.4 million that the company had been awarded to operate Pentagon bio-laboratories in Georgia, Uganda, Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan and South East Asia.