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The Surveillance Apparatus That Surrounded Britney Spears

  • September 25, 2021

Mr. Vlasov said Mr. Yemini and another Black Box employee had once given him a portable USB drive and asked him to delete the audio recordings on it.

“I had them tell me what was on it,” Mr. Vlasov said. “They seemed very nervous and said that it was extremely sensitive, that nobody can ever know about this and that’s why I need to delete everything on it, so there’s no record of it. That raised so many red flags with me and I did not want to be complicit in whatever they were involved in, so I kept a copy, because I don’t want to delete evidence.”

The drive, he discovered, contained audio recordings from a device that was secretly placed in Ms. Spears’s bedroom — more than 180 hours of recordings. Mr. Vlasov said he had thought the timing was curious because some of the recordings were made around the time that a court investigator visited Ms. Spears to perform a periodic review in September 2016.

The New York Times reviewed the recordings to confirm their authenticity.

When asked why he had continued working with Black Box despite harboring so many concerns, Mr. Vlasov said he had feared the amount of power Mr. Yemini and others had, and the possibility that they could damage his job prospects in the industry.

After Ms. Spears’s impassioned remarks to the court in June, Mr. Vlasov said, his mind-set changed.

Choosing to leave Black Box in April was the best decision of his life, he said, and he believes going public is the right thing to do. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’ve never regretted it,” he said.

Ms. Spears spent time at a mental health treatment facility in 2019 — a stay that appears to have been a turning point in the conservatorship. Who exactly sent her there, for what reason and whether she went on her own volition are in dispute.

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