The father of American singer Britney Spears hired an Israeli surveillance firm to record her phone calls and communications, a former employee of the firm said in a New York Times documentary.
According to the documentar, released on Friday entitled "Controlling Britney Spears," James Spears used Black Box Security to capture audio recordings from her bedroom, including conversations with her boyfriend and children during her court-mandated conservatorship.
Alex Vlasov, a former assistant and operations cybersecurity manager at Black Box Security, told the New York Times: "It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison. And security was put in a position to be the prison guards essentially."
The chief executive and founder of Black Box, Edan Yemini, was born in Israel and is described as having a background in the Israeli Special Forces on the firm's website.
The New York Times reported that the conversations were likely recorded without the consent of both parties – a violation of the law – and that it was unclear if the court overseeing Spears' conservatorship was aware of or had approved the surveillance.
A lawyer for Edani said in a statement that his security firm Black Box have "always conducted themselves within professional, ethical and legal bounds, and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms Spears safe for many years."
Meanwhile, lawyers for Jamie Spears denied he had access to her "calls, voicemail messages, or texts", and claimed his actions "were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney and/or the court".
Alex said his superiors had explained that the severe surveillance measures were to protect Spears and that she wanted to be in the conservatorship. However, he had felt compelled to share his information after Spears' case had gained widespread attention following her court testimony in June, in which she criticised the judicial system, her conservators and managers.
"Just because you're in control doesn't give you the right to treat people like property. It doesn't feel like she was treated like a human being," added Alex.
Britney Spears's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, said in a statement: "Any unauthorised intercepting or monitoring of Britney' communications – especially attorney-client communications, which are a sacrosanct part of the legal system – would represent a shameful violation of her privacy rights and a striking example of the deprivation of her civil liberties."
"Placing a listening device in Britney's bedroom would be particularly inexcusable and disgraceful, and corroborates so much of her compelling, poignant testimony," he said. "These actions must be fully and aggressively investigated."