Special Forces of Georgia still intimidate personnel of the newspaper “Batumelebi” for what we have to appeal to the international community for help because we do not have guarantee on safety.
On November 25, 2009 law enforcement officers tried to blackmail the head of investigative group of the newspaper Tedo Jorbenadze. They aimed to win the journalist over in order to interfere in editorial activities of the newspaper.
Georgian Special Forces used the same methods former soviet KGB used in order to blackmail people – that is sexual orientation because of stigma in Georgia; they showed photos of naked men to Jorbenadze and told he was one of them. They also had video-materials and unless he cooperated with them, they would send the photos to his parents, colleagues and upload them on internet.
Tedo Jorbenadze was told that Special Forces of foreign countries – Russia and Turkey – were interested in the editorial activities of the “Batumelebi” and since he is one of the decision-makers at the editorial office, he had to cooperate with Georgian Special Forces.
After Jorbenadze turned down their offer, policemen started to insult him and warned against telling others about the incident.
We have informed Georgian society about the incident. Editorial board of the “Batumelebi” acts in accordance to the Georgian law and appeals to the prosecutor’s office to start investigation. However, we do not believe they will investigation the incident impartially.
It was not first fact of intimidating journalists for the newspaper “Batumelebi”. Law enforcement officers even threatened them with physical liquidation. Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office has not investigated any of these incidents. Despite that, we have never been under psychological oppression so far which we have been experiencing since the night of November 25. When you see Georgian Special Forces breach the law openly, disregard dignity of a person and journalists cynically, we have feeling our country has returned back to the epoch of soviet KGB.
We are afraid that intimidation of Tedo Jorbenadze and editorial board of the newspaper “Batumelebi” in general will be continued. We do not exclude the possibility that in near future officers of the Special Forces will use other methods to oppress Tedo Jorbenadze or other journalists of the newspaper.
Newspaper “Batumelebi” and independent media of Georgia always felt support from international media and human rights organizations. We hope, your support will be timely in this particular case too and will assist us to protect our personal and professional rights and freedoms.
Newspaper “Batumelebi” has been publishing since 2001. The newspaper has been awarded by international organizations for high professionalism and compliance with the standards of journalistic ethic. Among them are “Prize for Press in Russia and Eastern Europe” by Norwegian “Institusjonen Fritt Ord” and German ZEIT Foundation in 2009; “Prize for the Freedom of Press – Signal to Europe” by the Reporters without Borders.
Mzia Amaghlobeli, Publisher of the Newspaper „Batumelebi“
Batumi, Georgia. Tel: 877 45 63 36