Britney Spears’s father had a security firm tap into her phone and bug her bedroom, a former employee of the company has alleged in a new film about the conservatorship from which she has fought to free herself for years.

Alex Vlasov, who worked for the Black Box firm, which the celebrity’s father hired to protect her, said they “mirrored” her phone to read her text messages and planted a recording device in her room to listen to her conversations. He spoke out in the documentary “Controlling Britney Spears,” which was released Friday by the New York Times.

The 39-year-old pop star’s struggle to end the conservatorship over her nearly $60 million fortune has reeled in fans around the world and sparked “Free Britney” rallies in major cities. Her highly publicized attempts to regain control of her life also brought attention to others struggling with similar thorny guardianships.

The next court hearing over the conservatorship is set for Sept. 29 and comes after her father, Jamie Spears, filed to remove himself from the conservatorship under which she has lived for 13 years — a dramatic twist that needs a judge’s approval.

After Friday’s surveillance allegations, which her attorney pledged to investigate, her father’s lawyer said his “actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court” and were carried out with the “consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney and/or the court,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile a statement on behalf of Black Box Security, shown in the documentary, said the company had worked within ethical and legal bounds, and that it was “particularly proud of their work keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years.”

Britney Spears’s family and aides maintain that they have protected her under the legal arrangement — which is meant to help people who cannot care for themselves, individuals such as the elderly or ill.

It started in 2008 as the former child star publicly struggled with a mental health breakdown in the face of paparazzi scrutiny. At the time, she was hospitalized and lost custody of her two children. But questions have since abounded about the guardianship, especially after she returned to the recording studio, went on tour and then launched a residency in Las Vegas.

“I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work,” she said in June in a rare testimony that drew worldwide fan sympathy after she described restraints on her access to her money and even her reproductive rights. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” she said.

Britney Spears has been in a conservatorship for over a decade. (Monica Rodman, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Read more: